justalurker66 wrote: ↑Sun Dec 20, 2020 10:57 pm
electricron wrote: ↑Sun Dec 20, 2020 2:32 amNorth Carolina was willing to subside its' train, so the Congress had to choose between 704 and 780 rail miles in the legislation, 750 seems like a nice round number.
Why not keep it simple and allow a state to subsidize any train that they want?
There's nothing stopping any state subsidizing any train it wants, whether its route is 10, 749 or 751 miles.
The only thing PRIIA does is making Amtrak finance the existing
750+ mile trains, while demanding the states foot most of the bill for the rest (outside the NEC). As for any new routes the length doesn't matter as Amtrak is not allowed to finance them absent an act of congress, so all the fuss about creating new routes over 750 miles so Amtrak will/has to fund them is utterly moot (the exception being new LD's between existing endpoints, but not a lot of those have been popping up either...).
To finance new routes of any length falls solely on the states, unless someone can lobby a specific earmark for it through Congress. We have not seen a lot of those either, though this seems to be the way the initiatives around a partial revival of a Sunset East or a North Coast Hiawatha are trying, again regardless of 750 miles or not.
The goals of PRIIA to make a uniform formula for the states' financing of regional corridors and to ensure local ownership to these are generally sound. But it has more than a few ill side effects.
The most important is the obstacles that state borders create. This means that some corridors, that are very feasible transportationwise are not politically feasible. A day train Memphis-Chicago is a pretty obvious one, but Tennessee politics makes it unlikely for the state to finance a train that serves only one city at the western end of the state, and one that is politicially different from the rest of the state to boot. A corridor connecting Buffalo and Cleveland will attract very little attention from either New York. Pennsylvania or Ohio. A Cleveland-Chicago corridor none from Indiana...
PRIIA also leaves far the largest share of the bill to the states, and that's an obstacle to starting new routes. Often investment in capacity etc is very high and also poorly or inconsistently financed by the federal government to start with. Leaving the states more or less on their own for operating subsidies too in a start up phase makes the threshold even higher.
So yeah, PRIIA needs a reform if America is to get serious about expanding its intercity network.