September 7, 2000
The Amtrak Reform
Council (the Council) held its business meeting at the Channel
Inn, 650 Water Street, SW, Washington, D.C., in the Captains
Room on Thursday, September 7, 2000. The meeting started
at 1:00 p.m. and adjourned at approximately 4:30 p.m.
present: Gil Carmichael, Chair; Bruce Chapman; Nancy Rutledge
Connery; James Coston; Wendell Cox; Christopher K. Gleason;
S. Lee Kling; Charles Moneypenny; Federal Railroad Administrator
Jolene Molitoris and Deputy Administrator Jack Wells, following
seriatim, representing the Secretary of Transportation.
chaired the meeting and Deirdre OSullivan served as
Remarks by Gil Carmichael
opened the meeting by welcoming new Council member Nancy
Rutledge Connery, appointed by Senator Lott to fill the
position vacated by the resignation of Joe Vranich. He
then advised the Council that the Senate Commerce Committee
Hearing on Amtrak that was scheduled for earlier that morning
had been postponed with no word as to when it would be rescheduled.
He also stated that the Council staff had been informed
by Mr. Moneypenny that the formal Labor presentation that
was scheduled for that day's meeting had also been postponed
due to a scheduling conflict. Instead, the Council would
have an informal discussion with the Labor representatives
who were present at the meeting and reschedule the formal
presentation for the November 16th ARC Meeting.
also stated that because the minutes from the last meeting
were not given to the Council members to review until the
day of the meeting, the Council members would be given time
to review the minutes and vote via notation. Once the minutes
are approved, the minutes would be posted on the ARC website.
by H. Brent Coles, President of The U.S. Conference of Mayors
and Mayor of Boise, Idaho
The first speaker
was H. Brent Coles, President of The U.S. Conference of
Mayors (Conference) and Mayor of Boise, Idaho. His formal
presentation focused on the need for more rail service,
both commuter and intercity. He discussed the expansion
in Boise of commuter rail, and that he would like an Amtrak
station to connect the commuter lines with the rest of country.
He also stated that both he personally and the Conference
S. 1900, the
proposed Lautenberg Bonds legislation because
of the need for funding improvements in rail infrastructure.
During the question and answer period that followed, Mayor
Coles stated, in response to a question by Administrator
Molitoris, that he was very supportive of such funding flexibility
for states to use a portion of highway money for rail.
Mr. Carmichael discussed the idea of the local authority
owning and operating Amtrak stations following the example
of Washingtons Union Station. Mayor Coles stated
that he would personally support a resolution from the Conference
for the cities to own and operate the Amtrak stations rather
than having Amtrak do so.
Discussion with Rail Labor Organizations
opened the discussion with the Railway Labor Organizations
by stating that this discussion was to be considered an
informal discussion with the formal presentation to occur
at the next meeting. Administrator Molitoris asked Mr.
Moneypenny how Amtraks employees were reacting to
the new service guarantee program. Mr. Moneypenny stated
that it was too soon to have an accurate assessment of the
stated that he had given the staff copies of an op-ed article
that he had written in the Providence Journal that he asked
to be distributed to the Council but the staff had not done
so. When Mr. Carmichael asked the staff why this was not
done, Deirdre OSullivan of the staff stated that there
were several articles and materials that were to be mailed
out to the Council, and Mr. Moneypennys op-ed was
included in that packet. However, due to the rush of last
minute preparations for the meeting, it failed to go out
in time before the meeting. Mr. Carmichael stated that
articles and other items of interest to the Council should
be sent out immediately. Tom Till, Executive Director acknowledged
this and stated that the staff would do so in the future.
then commented on the fact that at the last meeting he asked
to discuss the situation in Boston regarding the MBTA commuter
contract but was unable to do so because of time constraints.
Mr. Moneypenny then stated the entire situation was a problem
from the start. He continued by saying that the company,
Bay State, had only two employees when it was awarded the
contract, and the MBTA panel that judged the bids for the
contract was biased. In addition, he stated that the Bay
State contract was very similar to the Big Dig
contract in that the winning contractor had under-bid to
get the contract. Mr. Moneypenny then criticized Mr. Tills
testimony before the House Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee on October 28, 1999, for including in the testimony
a graph that depicted the four bids for the MBTA contract
because it did not show the entire story. Mr. Till stated
that the graph, which had been published in a report provided
by the MBTA, had been used only to demonstrate the point
that Amtrak's high costs could be a threat to its future
ability to compete effectively for contracts to perform
maintenance and operating services for commuter authorities.
He further stated that a recent GAO report had concluded
that Amtrak's costs were growing at a rate substantially
higher than the rate of inflation. Mr. Carmichael then
stated that he has recused himself from all aspects of the
MBTA contract. Mr. Kling stated that this was an issue
that had been discussed in the past and that the discussion
should move on. Mr. Cox agreed and the discussion was concluded.
No action was taken on this issue.
by Nazih Haddad, Florida DOT on Plans for Expanded Rail
Service in Florida
Mr. Nazih Haddad,
Florida DOT, made a presentation regarding the new Florida
rail passenger plan, which was a joint venture between Amtrak
and Florida DOT. He outlined the plan that included, in
Phase I, additional Amtrak long-haul trains from the Northeast;
and, in Phases II-IV, to have intra-state rail service between
Tampa, Orlando, and an area around Miami. He also stated
Florida DOT's support for the Lautenberg Bonds as a means
to help pay for this expansion. Mr. Cox bought up the point
that the new intra-state trains would not be high-speed,
but would only travel at 79 miles per hour. Mr. Cox stated
that, the way the Lautenberg bill had been drafted, the
bond money could be used for any infrastructure improvements,
not just for high-speed service. Mr. Haddad argued that
you have to crawl before you can walk. He argued
that the failed FOX program was an example of planners getting
too far ahead of the public, and that once intra-state rail
is introduced to the public, the demand for high-speed rail
ended with an update from Mr. Till on the status of various
policy papers that the Council staff was working on. These
include: (1) the latest version of the NEC paper, which
was recently sent to the states, NEC commuter lines, and
others for comment; (2) the legal summary of laws pertaining
to Amtrak, which the Council has forwarded to Amtrak and
FRA for final comments; (3) the financing options paper
that Mr. Carmichael requested, which was a work in progress;
(4) the structural options paper that Mr. Chapman requested,
which was also a work in progress; and (5) the testimony
for the postponed Senate Hearing, which would be sent out
to the Council for comment.
Mr. Ross Capon,
Executive Director of NARP had several comments regarding
the staffs working paper on the Northeast Corridor
infrastructure that argued against the separation of the
Northeast Corridor infrastructure from Amtrak.
was adjourned at approximately 4:30 p.m.