Amtrak: The History and Politics of a National Railroad

By David C. Nice | Go to book overview

an expressway project for a single metropolitan area. 44 Available information on America's oil reserves and oil consumption suggests, however, that at least modest investment in transportation modes that can be more readily converted to operation without oil fuels may well be prudent. The Amtrak system meets that requirement.

The preceding analysis also indicates that public or quasi-public agencies are capable of improving their performance. The early Amtrak system suffered from the neglect of passenger train service in its waning years in the private sector and from strikingly diverse expectations regarding its goals. With time, effort, and money came new equipment, improved facilities, and modernized work rules. Many characteristics of the system, from the national distribution of service and state subsidy programs to the evolution of international service and the system's financial performance, reflect efforts to allocate resources productively and to control costs. Not all public agencies operate in an environment featuring as much competition as does Amtrak, but the evidence presented here demonstrates that concern for efficiency is not a stranger to the public sector.


Notes
1.
Energy Security: An Overview of Changes in the World Oil Market ( Washington, DC: General Accounting Office, 1988), 20.
2.
U.S. Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Natural Gas Liquids Reserves: 1986 Annual Report ( Washington, DC: Energy Information Administration, 1987), 6; American Almanac ( Austin, TX: Reference Press, 1994), 717.
3.
World Almanac ( New York: Newspaper Enterprise Association, 1988), 175; ( 1990), 191; ( 1996), 202.
4.
Energy Security, 24; American Almanac, 583-584, 594.
5.
Energy Security, 39-43; World Almanac ( New York: Newspaper Enterprise Association, 1991), 192.
6.
For a troubling assessment of the state of U.S. emergency reserves, see International Energy Agency ( Washington, DC: General Accounting Office, 1989).
7.
Ronald Inglehart, "Value Change in Industrial Societies", American Political Science Review 81 ( 1987): 1302.
8.
Federal Subsidies for Rail Passenger Service: An Assessment of Amtrak ( Washington, DC: Congressional Budget Office, 1982), 13-18; Francis Mulvey, "Amtrak: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis", Transportation Research 13A ( 1979): 331-333.
9.
Don Cash and Robert Rycroft, "Energy Policy: How Failure Was Snatched from the Jaws of Success", Policy Studies Review 4 ( 1985): 433-444; Thomas Dye , Understanding Public Policy, 5th ed. ( Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1984), 191.
10.
Liviu Alston, Railways and Energy ( Washington, DC: World Bank, 1984); Railroad Electrification: The Issues, Special Report 180 ( Washington, DC: National Academy of Science, 1977).
11.
Alston, 35.
12.
Cecil Law, "Comment", in Railroad Electrification: The Issues, 64-65.

-103-

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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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