Amtrak: The History and Politics of a National Railroad

By David C. Nice | Go to book overview

Therefore, they may press for policies that include efficiency concerns, compensatory provisions, and/or demand considerations. Bureaucratic decision rules do not emerge from a vacuum; they may reflect interactions among administrators, elected officials, and a variety of other actors. 49

The continuing battle over the future of Amtrak naturally has led people in that agency to be concerned with maintaining and building political support. 50 The need for political support apparently has shaped some Amtrak service decisions in the past. 51 Those considerations might well be appropriate for explaining variations in the distribution of Amtrak service.

The preceding analysis indicates that a perspective oriented toward bureaucratic decision rule has considerable merit in explaining Amtrak service availability. Efficiency criteria derived from the transportation literature are quite effective in accounting for the distribution of service. Once the characteristics of the task environment, as indicated by those criteria, are taken into account, political considerations involving nonefficiency criteria play a modest but significant role.

It is true that program variations that appear small from a national perspective may seem substantial from the perspective of an individual state or community. Moreover, the political variables examined here do not include information on members' personal goals or interests. Overall, however, most of the variation in Amtrak service across the country can be explained by long-established indicators of efficiency.


Notes
1.
George Hilton, Amtrak ( Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute, 1980), 15-20; Roger Bradley, Amtrak ( Poole, United Kingdom: Blandford Press, 1985), 123-135.
2.
Theodore Anagnoson, "Federal Grant Agencies and Congressional Election Campaigns", American Journal of Political Science 26 ( 1982): 547-561; Frederic Bolotin and David Cingranelli, "Equity and Urban Policy: The Underclass Hypothesis Revisited", Journal of Politics 45 ( 1983): 217-218; Martha Derthick, Uncontrollable Spending for Social Services Grants ( Washington, DC: Brookings, 1974); Bryan Jones, "Party and Bureaucracy: The Influence of Intermediary Groups on Urban Public Service Delivery", American Political Science Review 75 ( 1981): 688-700; David Koehler and Margaret Wrightson, "Inequality in the Delivery of Urban Services: A Reconsideration of Chicago Parks", Journal of Politics 49 ( 1987): 95.
3.
R. Douglas Arnold, Congress and the Bureaucracy ( New Haven: Yale, 1979), 3; Robert Dilger, "Grantsmanship, Formulamanship, and Other Allocational Principles", Journal of Urban Affairs 5 ( 1983): 269-286; John Ferejohn, Pork Barrel Politics ( Stanford: Stanford University, 1974), 49-50.
4.
See Arnold, 20; Robert Lineberry, Equality and Urban Policy ( Beverly Hills: Sage, 1977), 153-156; Kenneth Mladenka, "The Urban Bureaucracy and the Chicago Political Machine: Who Gets What and the Limits to Political Control", American Political Science Review 74 ( 1980): 991-998.

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Amtrak: The History and Politics of a National Railroad
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Creating Amtrak 1
  • Notes 12
  • 2 - Development: Building the System 15
  • Notes 28
  • 3 - Distribution: Who Gets Service? 31
  • Notes 42
  • 4 - The States: Reluctant Partners? 47
  • Notes 58
  • 5 - International Amtrak 61
  • Notes 69
  • 6 - Bringing Passengers on Board 71
  • Notes 78
  • 7 - The Balance Sheet 81
  • Notes 91
  • 8 - Amtrak: Worth the Cost? 93
  • Notes 103
  • Bibliography 107
  • Index 115
  • About the Book 119
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