Hotline

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

Hotline #679-B

At 5:00 am today at Lugoff, S.C., Amtrak's northbound Silver Star, train 82/92, derailed. At a 5:00 pm press briefing at Washington Union Station, Amtrak President Graham Claytor said the best current estimate of fatalities is seven,* all passengers. Eighteen people remain hospitalized in the Columbia area; five of them are critically injured. Fifty-eight others were treated and released. A total of 426 passengers and crew were on board. Claytor called it a "terrible tragedy" and said he felt "v

Hotline #679

The House surface transportation bill, H.R.2950, was marked up by the Surface Transportation Subcommittee on July 23 and by the full Public Works committee yesterday. President Bush has now come out more firmly against the bill, saying he would veto anything with a gas-tax increase. H.R.2950 relies heavily on a nickel increase to pay for all the pork highway projects, which in turn were crafted to get as many Representatives to vote for the bill as possible. In any event, the gas-tax increase it

Hotline #678

The House surface transportation bill, H.R.2950, will be marked up in the Public Works Transportation Subcommittee on July 23 and in the full Committee on July 25. Public Works leadership still hope to get it to the House floor the week of July 29. As of now, it appears that intercity rail is not covered in H.R.2950, nor is maglev. It calls for another five-cent gas-tax increase that would go toward building pork-barrel highway projects, thinly veiled "demonstration projects" such as the infamou

Hotline #677

It now appears that the mark-up of the surface transportation bill by the Surface Transportation Subcommittee of the House Public Works Committee will be July 23. The full committee mark-up will be July 25, though those dates may change. NARP has written to members of the committee supporting inclusion of intercity passenger rail in the bill's definition of flexibility. The letter also supported requiring a rail link in the Boston Central Artery project, inclusion of the Boehlert-Borski truck-we

Hotline #676

All eyes now are on the House Public Works Committee in hopes the highway/transit bill they are now drafting will be as favorable for rail interests as S.1204 is. The Surface Transportation Subcommittee mark-up is now set for July 16, with full committee mark-up on July 18, but all important decisions are likely to have been made before the first mark-up. Public Works has yet to decide whether to follow S.1204's good example of making intercity passenger rail eligible for highway trust funds. Th

Hotline #674

The Senate approved S.1204, the Moynihan surface transportation bill, on a 91-7 vote on June 19. Many amendments, including provision of a watered-down national highway system and re-figuring of state allocations, were added to the bill last week, but the essence of what we were concerned about remained in the bill. That includes wide flexibility for a state to spend federal highway money on other transportation programs, including intercity passenger rail; a level playing field through uniform

Hotline #675

The House Public Works surface transportation bill is still being drafted within the Surface Transportation Subcommittee. Mark-up is expected no earlier than July 9, with Committee mark-up possibly the following week and House floor action the week after that. No one expects a House-Senate conference before the August recess. However, good things have been learned about the draft bill. The House bill will have the anti-big-truck language of the Senate bill. Also, it will have the Senate's level

Hotline #673-A

Despite debate extending over several days, the Senate still has not voted on Senator Moynihan's surface transportation bill, S.1204. However, the nucleus of the bill -- the flexibility and level-playing-field provisions -- still survives. Right now, the Senate is hearing debates on two amendments from Senator Graham (D.-Fla.). If the two amendments are tabled, we fully expect the full Senate to approve the Moynihan bill at some point after 7:35 pm. Because we expect the bill to pass, we will n

Hotline #673

Despite debate extending past midnight, the Senate still has not voted on Senator Moynihan's (D.-N.Y.) surface transportation bill, S.1204. However, the nucleus of the bill -- the flexibility and level-playing-field provisions -- still survives. Earlier this week, the Moynihan bill was challenged by a coalition of donor-state Senators led by Senator Warner (R.-Va.). Their bill contained none of the flexibility language and would have been very harmful. While that issue has not yet been resol

Hotline #672-B

Debate continues on S.1204, the Moynihan surface transportation bill, with a final vote expected for this evening. The great showdown has been between Senator Moynihan (D.-N.Y.) himself, whose bill does the most in terms of including passenger rail as an eligible trust fund program and a level playing field across all modes, and Senator Warner (R.-Va.), who is leading a coalition of Senators from Highway Trust Fund "donor states," which pay more in gas taxes than they get back in federal highway