Amtrak: The History and Politics of a National Railroad

By David C. Nice | Go to book overview

involvement is small when compared to state involvement in highway programs, but the record reveals that sustained state effort, especially with local cooperation, can yield dramatic improvements in services and in public use of those services. 30

Because of the small number of subsidizing states in most years and changes in the ranks of subsidizing states from year to year, analysis of the state subsidy decisions is difficult. North Carolina adopted a subsidy program, terminated it, and then later started a new one. Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi ended their joint subsidy but agreed later to try a ninety-

day experiment in the summer of 1996. Any conclusions reached from analyzing a small number of unstable cases must be treated with considerable caution.

The evidence indicates that a large population base encourages both the adoption and survival of Amtrak subsidies. As noted previously, a large population generally means a large pool of potential customers and a large pool of taxpayers to sustain the subsidy. In addition, however, the states with very large populations also tend to have large metropolitan areas, with high levels of traffic congestion. Improved rail passenger service is one way to get people off the freeways and to cope with traffic congestion.

The analysis also indicates that ideological factors influence subsidy decisions, although the relationships tend to be less strong and less consistent than was found for population. The recent return of some conservative southern states to the ranks of the subsidizers suggests that ideological considerations may be weakening, but whether those subsidies will survive remains to be seen.


Notes
1.
Book of the States (Lexingtoa, KY: Council of State Governments, 1984), 324-325, 376-377; Thomas Dye, Politics in States and Communities, 6th ed. ( Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1988), 455-460.
2.
Benjamin Allen and David Vellenga, "Public Financing of Railroads Under the New Federalism: The Progress and Problems of Selected State Programs", Transportation Journal 23 ( 1983): 5-19; William Black and James Runke, The States and Rural Rail Preservation ( Lexington, KY. Council of State Governments, 1975); William Black, Railroads for Rent ( Bloomington: Indiana University, 1986); David Nice, "State and Local Government Ownership of Freight Railroads", Transportation Quarterly 41 ( 1987): 587-600; John Stover, American Railroads ( Chicago: University of Chicago, 1961), chapter 5.
3.
Allen and Vellenga, 17.
4.
Thomas Dye, Politics, Economics, and the Public ( Chicago: Rand McNally, 1966); Thomas Dye, American Federalism: Competition Among Governments ( Lexington, MA: Lexington, 1990).
5.
Jack Walker, "Innovation in State Politics", in Politics in the American States, 2nd ed., ed. Herbert Jacob and Kenneth Vines ( Boston: Little, Brown, 1971),359.

-58-

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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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