• Amtrak Gateway Tunnels

  • This forum will be for issues that don't belong specifically to one NYC area transit agency, but several. For instance, intra-MTA proposals or MTA-wide issues, which may involve both Metro-North Railroad (MNRR) and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Other intra-agency examples: through running such as the now discontinued MNRR-NJT Meadowlands special. Topics which only concern one operating agency should remain in their respective forums.
This forum will be for issues that don't belong specifically to one NYC area transit agency, but several. For instance, intra-MTA proposals or MTA-wide issues, which may involve both Metro-North Railroad (MNRR) and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Other intra-agency examples: through running such as the now discontinued MNRR-NJT Meadowlands special. Topics which only concern one operating agency should remain in their respective forums.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, nomis, FL9AC, Jeff Smith

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  by electricron
 
R&DB wrote: Tue Feb 18, 2020 8:53 am Gateway, Portal and Moynihan projects all impact every state from MA to FL to LA. So the assertion that it is only a NY/NJ thing is false. Every rail passenger who travels through the North River tunnels should be screaming at their congress critters and state politicos every day to get these projects done. And if they don't, then we can play DEAL! (Don't Elect Any Incumbents)
Of course there are Amtrak trains with passengers on them from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii, but how many of them is the question to ask when determining what share Amtrak should pay. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsylva ... rk_City%29
Here are 2017 facts from Wiki for Pennsylvania Station share:
69,722,560 Annually (LIRR)
27,296,100 Annually (NJT)
10,397,729 Annually (Amtrak)
One could easily argue that Amtrak share is less than 11% for Pennsylvania Station.
Math = 10,397,729 / (68,722,560 + 27,296,100) = 10,397,729 / 96,018,660 = 10.8
If you make the argument that the North River tunnels have zero LIRR passengers, Amtrak share for the tunnels is less than 39%. Math = 20,397.729 / 27,286,100 = 38.1
One could just as easily make the argument that all three governments should share the costs equally, 33.3% each.
But somehow, NY and NJ politicians deciding amongst themselves that the US government should fund 50% of the new tunnels cost, additionally covering 100% of any cost overruns; yet some wonder why the US government under both Democrats and Republicans administrations have balked at paying so much?
  by eolesen
 
electricron wrote:
But somehow, NY and NJ politicians deciding amongst themselves that the US government should fund 50% of the new tunnels cost, additionally covering 100% of any cost overruns;
You left out covering the bribes and no-show jobs for all the local politicians’ families and the union bosses.... there’s a reason construction projects at EWR/LGA/JFK have resulted in the highest per-passenger terminal costs of US Airlines. If I recall, $40+ vs $5-$20 at almost every other hub airport in the country....

Arguably, I’m pretty certain folks in upstate NY and downstate NJ don’t want to fund it, either.

Treat it like the NJ Turnpike, NY Thruway, Hudson bridges/tunnels and charge a flat toll per user. It’s the only fair way to recoup the cost while not ripping off the 310M people who get no benefit from it. Not at all unlike the 7.5% tax on airline tickets that funds all FAA airport infrastructure projects/grants.
Last edited by eolesen on Tue Feb 18, 2020 11:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by gokeefe
 
Agreed that the lack of a user fee structure is really holding this project back.
  by FANWOODGUY
 
I think a surcharge for infrastructure maintenance is probably the way to go. I have no idea how many people travel through the tunnels daily but a dollar or two surcharge on Amtrak and NJY passengers directed to the project would be a step in the right direction. This may be Amtrak property but NJ and NY really need to step up.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Well Mr. Fanwood, first I can remember watching CNJ Camelbacks, as well as the Royal Blue gliding by, as a kid visiting (well, dumped off at) an Aunt residing near the station.

Now secondly, there is precedence for what I think is your good idea of a "toll" on each passenger using a new tunnel (while ARC was badly flawed, it would have been built by now, Gov. Christie should hsve floated such a proposal before he blanketly scrapped the project (and of course paid his pal consultants).

The precedent was the interline fare structure adopted by the PRR and NH after Hell Gate Bridge was opened. At that time, the interline PRR-NH fare wss greater thsn the sum of the two local fares.

Sure, back then, we were talking a buck at the most. But the fact remains such established building into a rail fare a surcharge for the use of a particular facility.

I'd have no issue if such a surcharge was part of funding Gateway.
  by JoeG
 
I wouldn't have a problem with a surcharge but the project is also national in its importance. Eventually it looks like NY and NJ will have to pay a good part of the cost but I think the Feds should contribute.
We are inconsistent about how we pay for transportation infrastructure. Air traffic control is free. Interstate highways are free except when they are tollroads. Lesser highways are usually free except when they aren't.
The real problem we have is the scarcity of money available for infrastructure improvements. Other industrial countries seem to have more money available for infrastructure. We need to fix that in general. Gateway is only one expensive example. Drive down many interstates these days and find many other smaller but jarring examples.
Aside from Gateway, Amtrak has many other infrastructure needs that are at best years from getting funded. Trains this month focused on the B&P tunnels in Baltimore.
There have been many alarming articles on the state of our infrastructure but virtually no constructive response. It's the same as climate change. Many alarming articles and pieces of evidence but very little meaningful action, and here I'm talking about the whole world, not just the US. Japan, having decided that nuclear power is too dangerous, responds by building many new coal plants.
  by Bob Roberts
 
gokeefe wrote: Tue Feb 18, 2020 1:04 pm Agreed that the lack of a user fee structure is really holding this project back.
The nature of the route makes it a poor comparison but, IIRC the Channel Tunnel is currently funded by a flat 25gbp fee imposed on each passenger ticket.

Clearly the nature of the route means there are few daily commuters, there are passport controls and security at (at least) one end, ticket costs are much higher than NJT, it connects two of the wealthiest cities on earth and the company that built/owned the infrastructure had its debt restructured (I believe) twice so... shrug...
  by n2cbo
 
JoeG wrote: Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:36 pm Air traffic control is free. Interstate highways are free except when they are tollroads. Lesser highways are usually free except when they aren't.
None of those things are "Free" Someone is paying for them. Ok maybe it is not the end user, but someone is paying for it. I had a student that supported a certain politician because he wanted college to be free. I asked him who was going to pay for it, and he said "Nobody will because it will be free". I then asked him "So when you graduate and get a job as an assistant professor, you are going to work and not take a salary"? He told me "Wow, I never thought about it like THAT".

Someone is paying for those things, be it the airline, or most likely us, the taxpayers.

Ok, I'll step down from my soapbox now.
  by eolesen
 
JoeG wrote: Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:36 pm Air traffic control is free.
Wrong. It's funded by the 7.5% tax on airline tickets and taxes on aviation fuel for private and business aviation users.
JoeG wrote: Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:36 pm Interstate highways are free except when they are tollroads. Lesser highways are usually free except when they aren't.
Wrong again. Gas taxes (both Federal and local) fund highways.
  by SRich
 
eolesen wrote: Wed Feb 19, 2020 1:10 am
JoeG wrote: Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:36 pm Air traffic control is free.
Wrong. It's funded by the 7.5% tax on airline tickets and taxes on aviation fuel for private and business aviation users.
JoeG wrote: Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:36 pm Interstate highways are free except when they are tollroads. Lesser highways are usually free except when they aren't.
Wrong again. Gas taxes (both Federal and local) fund highways.
You'are also wrong, the large part of flying is free. Witch? The commercial part because of WW2 peace treaties when the politicians decide to not tax it globally.

And you a for a part correct on the interstates. One thing you missed. Inflation. Sinds 1993 the federal gas tax hasn't increase anymore. So by not raising the tax (to keep the highway fund solvent) Congress must fill it with funds from the general fund. People who do not own a car will therefore contribute to the interstate highways.

But lets go back to Trains :P

If Amtrak and NJ/NY want to build the Gateway tunnels. Then Amtrak should apply for a RRIF Loan.
  by mtuandrew
 
Mr. Rich: the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing fund has $35 billion available annually. Amtrak could apply and receive funding from it, but then what? It doesn’t have enough of a revenue stream to repay the loan, and if they default on the loan, in the end the USDOT owns the tunnels anyway.
  by SRich
 
mtuandrew wrote: Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:21 am Mr. Rich: the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing fund has $35 billion available annually. Amtrak could apply and receive funding from it, but then what? It doesn’t have enough of a revenue stream to repay the loan, and if they default on the loan, in the end the USDOT owns the tunnels anyway.
A possible solution could be a charge on every passenger on every amtrak/nj train. For example a 3$ fare increase p.p.
  by JoeG
 
Of course, I never had the ridiculous idea that infrastructure was free. I only meant that users did not directly pay for it as a consequence of use. It would come out of general revenues and eventually, of course, out of tax revenues.
Pennsylvania has developed an interesting alternative to raising taxes. That is, for one thing, because legislators always want to brag that they didn't raise taxes. So, they impose new fees. There is now, in my county, a stormwater fee that each property owner pays. Aside from enabling legislators to claim they aren't raising taxes, it nicely allows tax exempt properties to be charged the fee. In Harrisburg a large proportion of property is tax exempt.

As cars get better gas mileage, the gas taxes generate relatively less revenue, as costs for road repairs rise at a rate greater than inflation. So maybe there should be some kind of tax--uh, fee--specifically for transportation infrastructure improvement. Ideally, this fee would be based on the total assets, not income, of the fee payers. Why only charge fees or taxes on real estate and not on other assets?
  by Ken W2KB
 
SRich wrote: Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:26 am
mtuandrew wrote: Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:21 am Mr. Rich: the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing fund has $35 billion available annually. Amtrak could apply and receive funding from it, but then what? It doesn’t have enough of a revenue stream to repay the loan, and if they default on the loan, in the end the USDOT owns the tunnels anyway.
A possible solution could be a charge on every passenger on every amtrak/nj train. For example a 3$ fare increase p.p.
That $3 per NJT passenger surcharge would cause an uproar and be politically likely impossible. Adding $3 to a Newark, NJ Penn to New York Penn one-way ticket is a 57% increase, adding it to a monthly pass assuming used on average 20 days so adjusting the $3 to that usage in pricing, is a 79% increase. For a medium distance trip, Metropark to NY Penn, it is a 28% increase for one-way and 39% for a monthly using a 20 day adjustment.
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