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MORE ON VERMONTER/ETHAN ALLEN BIKES ON BOARD

THE National Association of Railroad Passenger puts the blame for taking the
baggage car for bikes/skis off on the State of Vermont and not Amtrak.  Here is the
response of Amtrak to my message:

Mr. Redington:

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the capacity for bicycles on the
Vermonter.  I would have responded to you last week, but I have just
returned from vacation today and am catching up to a week's worth of
correspondence.

First, I must tell you that we are appreciative of your recognition of
Amtrak's financial situation -- our "dire straits," as you call them.
Please know that you are not at risk of exaggerating with such a term.  The
considerable public discussion we generated at the end of June with our
statement that we might have to shut down the entire national system was
based on the reality that we literally could not make our payroll in
mid-July.  We're back from the brink now for the time being, but with
Congress yet to complete action on our FY '03 appropriation, and with a
meaningful discussion on Capitol Hill about our long-term future still
pending, we're not too far from the brink.  We'll be laying off another 500
people at the end of this month, on top of 1,000 layoffs in the past 12
months, meaning that we continue to work in a difficult environment.

As for the baggage car, it became a victim of simple underuse.  I do not
have the exact numbers at my fingertips, but I do know that the number of
bikes, skis, and everything else carried in the car was, unfortunately,
inconsequential.  The costs of maintaining the car, the required added fuel
it required and the fact that we plan to decrease the running time of the
train by as much as 30 minutes without the car all are very substantial.

On the specifics for an alternative to the baggage car, I want to assure you
that we will look at every possible service and marketing alternative.  We
work very closely with a committee we formed with the cycling communitee
about two years ago -- we call it the Bikes on Board Committee.  It was
formed at the suggestion of some people we work with in the East Coast
Greenway Alliance, and we have found its members to be creative and
articulate in giving us their ideas.

Finally, I want to assure you that have been and we remain in very close
contact with state rail officials on this matter and other decisions
regarding service in Vermont.  No decisions are made here arbitrarily.  It
might be true that in the best of all worlds the state (and Vermont is not
alone in this regard) would hope to see its money go further in providing
service.  But the fact is that in every one of the four Northeast Corridor
states in which we run service under contract (VT, ME, NY & PA) Amtrak loses
money.  We have good working relations with the transportation officials in
each state -- relations in which we are trying to make the state dollar go
as far as it can.  I see no letup in this effort at all.

Again, thank you for your e-mail.

 -- Bill Epstein
    Director of Government Affairs
    Amtrak Northeast Corridor
    TEL:  (215) 349-2133          FAX:  (215) 349-1858

-----Original Message-----
From: [log in to unmask] [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Monday, August 26, 2002 11:43 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Cc: [log in to unmask]
Subject: VERMONTER/ETHAN ALLEN BIKES AND CUSTOM CLASS


Dear Mr. Epstein:

        I write as both a long term NARP and Vermont Bike/Ped Coalition
member
(and state employee).

        There is a lot being discussed--cutting out the custom class area to

accommodate bicycles, placing bikes in a small area at the end of a coach,
etc.  It
makes most sense to me--as a planner--to get some data first.  How many
bikes
were carried, how many skis, how many custom class, for the most recent year

along with the revenue figure for each.  Also, what was the incremental cost
to have
the baggage car?  With that data, perhaps we can make some informed policy
decisions.  Otherwise we are all wandering around in a fog.

        Further, we understand that AMTRAK is in dire straits and must make
decisions quickly.  We also understand the Vermont trains are paid for in
great part
by Vermonters who have a right to be in the decision making process.  Give
us and
our Legislature a chance to make these decisioins if they involve state
subsidy!!

        Thank you in advance for your information which I will share with
the
Vermont Bike/Ped Coalition.

                                                Sincerely,


                                                Tony Redington
Tony Redington
802-223-1744 (h)
[log in to unmask]
[log in to unmask] (office)

On 22 Aug 2002 at 8:36, Bud Haas wrote:

Date sent:              Thu, 22 Aug 2002 08:36:16 -0400
Send reply to:          Bud Haas <[log in to unmask]>
From:                   Bud Haas <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:                Re: [VTBIKEPEDPOLICY-L] Letter in response to
MacLeay crash
To:                     [log in to unmask]

Becka:
Good, "nice" letter.
Perhaps a followup, "hard" letter talking about negligent criminal acts
which call for appropriate prosecution and punishment.  As you know, too
often, cyclists and pedestrians are seen as just having been "in the way",
or that hitting a cyclist or pedestrian is just a "mistake".
I strongly believe that motorists have a positive responsibility to look out
for pedestrians and cyclists, even irresponsible cyclists and pedestrians.
They must slow down. Period. Speed kills.
Also, although these events happened in Chittenden County, they are
statewide issues. It would be appropriate to send copies to the Rutland
Herald, Times Argus, the Bennington Banner, The Brattleboro Reformer, and
The Valley News (Leb-WrJct), The Caledonia Record, etc. This, again, puts
the VBPC name out around the state.
Bud

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body.Tony Redington
802-223-1744 (h)
[log in to unmask]
[log in to unmask] (office)

==========
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Subscription control: http://list.uvm.edu/archives/vtbikepedpolicy-l.html.
For help: email [log in to unmask] with the word "help" in the message body.