Your weekly source of fresh takes on news affecting America's passengers. See also the RPA Blog.

Hotline #754-A

Due to severe weather this week, the Empire Builder missed many trips between Spokane and St. Paul. United Airlines waived its advance purchase requirements for round-trip discount tickets between the Empire Builder's six largest cities, if you have an Empire Builder ticket or a receipt that you request when Amtrak refunds your ticket. Amtrak is bussing passengers from Whitefish to Spokane today and tomorrow. It now appears that trips originating in Chicago and the Northwest on January 3 will ru

Hotline #754

Alabama Governor Hunt will meet with members of his staff on January 8 to discuss funding of Amtrak's Gulf Breeze -- just two days before Amtrak's planned discontinuance of the train. Amtrak announced last week that it would end the Birmingham-Mobile service because the state had not paid any 403(b) money since its old contract with Amtrak ended in October. Amtrak said that it would bus people with previous Gulf Breeze reservations, January 10-31, but there remains hope that the state can act ne

Hotline #753

In announcing today that the next Secretary of Transportation will be former Denver Mayor Federico Pena, President-elect Clinton said, "As I said often during the campaign, we must rebuild America's infrastructure to rebuild our economy. The bridges, the airports, the roads, the railways that carry our commerce ... Meeting these needs will be a truly monumental task, one that calls for a Secretary of Transportation who knows how to build and knows how America's cities and suburbs and rural areas

Hotline #752

The leading candidate to be President-elect Clinton's DOT secretary now appears to be William Daley, brother of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. William Daley is described as a sharp banker and "shadow mayor," for the advisory role he has played for his brother. Amtrak President Graham Claytor spoke at the Clinton economic summit in Little Rock on December 15. He made the case for putting furloughed Beech Grove workers back to work and for the Amtrak penny. He said that TGV and bullet-train-style h

Hotline #751

Amtrak President Graham Claytor will attend President-elect Clinton's economic summit in Little Rock on December 14-15. Invitations to it were very hard to get. Association of American Railroads President Edwin Harper has written Clinton transition planners on proposals to stimulate the rail industry. The November 25 letter includes a plea for increased Amtrak capital spending and allowing states to spend federal transportation money on rail projects. Harper said the proposals in his letter wou

Hotline #750

New Viewliners are on the way after the Amtrak board's approval on December 2 of an order of 50 single-level sleeping cars from Morrison-Knudsen for about $100 million, with an option on 50 more sleepers. The cars will be delivered in 1995 from plants at Pullman, Ill., and Hornell, N.Y. Federal Railroad Administrator Gil Carmichael, commenting to the Amtrak board on reduced equipment overhauls in fiscal 1992 and 1993, said, "This worries me. This can't go on too long." Board member Paul Weyric

Hotline #748

DOT Secretary Andrew Card told Amtrak President Claytor that President Bush plans to fill the four Amtrak board vacancies that don't require Senate confirmation. Together with Wisconsin Governor Thompson, they would create a year-long, Bush-appointed majority on the Amtrak board and might hire Claytor's successor. But first they might have to fire the 80-year-old Claytor, who says he would not resign under such circumstances. House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D.-Mich.) and Senator

Hotline #749

No company benefits from extended uncertainty about its future leadership, but that's just what Amtrak seems to be facing. It still looks like President Bush may make his four appointments to the Amtrak Board. That means the new Congress and President Clinton possibly could retaliate early next year by restructuring the board. That, in effect, would shorten the tenure of the new appointments and possibly that of any new president the board might have picked. We reported on November 20 that New

Hotline #747

During his campaign, President-elect Clinton supported full funding of ISTEA and spoke of a special $20-billion infrastructure program. Yesterday, he said he would "try to accelerate [that] in terms of road projects, water projects, other projects that are ... ready to go in the first year, with the commitment that I have to transfer defense cuts into domestic investment." Clinton transportation advisor Will Ris, meeting today with transit representatives, reaffirmed Clinton's commitment to ful

Hotline #746

Of the three presidential candidates, President-elect Clinton said the most about high-speed rail. He alone rode Amtrak and transit during the campaign year. NARP will give input as the transportation policy of the new administration develops. The next Congress will have new faces in key transportation positions. Rep. Bob Carr (D.-Mich.), who was narrowly re-elected, will be the new House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee chairman. He is most interested in aviation and is not known to