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

Hotline #672

Through a technical procedure, the number of the Moynihan surface transportation bill is not S.965. It is now S.1204. It was discussed briefly on the Senate floor yesterday, but further action is postponed until the morning of June 11. The Moynihan bill is still upsetting Senators from the Highway Trust Fund "donor states." They would like to scrap the Moynihan bill and replace it with a bill of their own that resembles the Administration bill. That would be very bad. It is possible that a compr

Hotline #671

It looks like S.965, the Senate surface transportation bill, will be voted on by the full Senate the week of June 10. Despite the good results of the May 22 mark-up, pro-rail language is still not entirely out of danger. Senator Warner (R.-Va.) has threatened a floor fight because the bill doesn't help Highway Trust Fund "donor states" such as Virginia. Of course, the Administration is still opposed because it includes no expanded highway system, as their bill did. Transportation Secretary Skinn

Hotline #670

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee marked up S.965, the Moynihan surface transportation bill, on May 22, and reported it to the full Senate. The results were very good. The rail language was changed from just the word "rail" to "passenger rail," so it still includes Amtrak. However, the part allowing operating funding to come from the Highway Trust Fund was dropped, so now it is only capital money, but that is still very good. The bill still ignores the Administration's call fo

Hotline #669

Committee mark-up of S.965, the Senate version of the surface transportation bill, was delayed until May 22. In the meantime, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held hearings on May 13 and 14, at the request of many parties, including the Administration, who didn't like S.965. NARP still likes the bill and is working to see that the positive, pro-rail language put in by Senator Moynihan (D.-N.Y.) remains. It is very possible, however, that the rail language will be taken out, or a

Hotline #668

There is still great danger that the pro-Amtrak language in S.965, Senator Moynihan's (D.-N.Y.) surface transportation bill, may be dropped. That language, which would give intercity passenger and freight rail access to the Highway Trust Fund for the first time ever, has come under attack from the trucking industry and state highway officials. There is danger that an amendment will be offered limiting the rail language to commuter rail and maglev only. That would be a great tragedy. Contact your

Hotline #667

Amtrak President Graham Claytor addressed a luncheon of the National Press Club on May 1, on the occasion of Amtrak's 20th anniversary. He outlined where Amtrak has been and where it's going, and named NARP as one of the parties that helped get Amtrak through its political crises in the 1980's. Claytor's remarks were broadcast in full on many public radio stations and may be seen at 6:00 pm Eastern time tomorrow on the C-SPAN One cable television channel. Also, the May Passenger Train Journal an

Hotline #666

Yesterday was a banner day for passenger-rail advocates because the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works transportation subcommittee, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D.-N.Y.), released a Senate version of the surface transportation bill with much stronger flexibility provisions than were in the Administration's bill. The importance of that feature of this bill cannot be understated. Moynihan's bill would allow money from the Highway Trust Fund to be shifted to Amtrak and maglev as w

Hotline #665-A

Bombardier and Amtrak, at long last yesterday, announced an order for 140 Superliners. For $350 million -- or about $2.5 million apiece -- Amtrak will get six deluxe sleepers for the Auto Train, 49 standard sleepers, 38 coaches, 20 diners, 15 lounges, and 12 transition dorms, plus an option to purchase 39 more cars at the same unit price. The cars are patterned after the original Pullman Standard Superliners delivered between 1979 and 1981, for which Bombardier holds all patents. Amtrak still ha

Hotline #665

The good news about the railroad strike is that it was brief, that many passenger trains -- including virtually all commuter trains -- were unaffected, and that the media and our political leaders were focused on the significant role that freight trains still play. In an unusual hearing on April 17 at 8:00 am, Transportation Secretary Skinner said, "A national rail strike clearly impairs our national defense and has disastrous consequences for the economy. The rail industry moves more than one-

Hotline #664-A

A national freight railroad strike is now more likely than ever on the morning of April 17. That is the expiration of a cooling-off period following the Presidential Emergency Board report of January, which sought to address work rule and health and welfare issues, some going back to 1984. Last week, the unions offered to allow passenger trains to continue to operate. That may not be a grand gesture on their part, but rather an attempt to keep Congress from intervening very soon. However, the ra