October 12, 2001
The Amtrak Reform Council (the Council) held its business
meeting at the Atlanta Renaissance Hotel, 590 West Peachtree
Street, NW, Atlanta, Georgia on Friday, October 12, 2001.
The meeting started at 8:30 p.m. and adjourned at approximately
Council Members present were: Gil Carmichael, Chair, James
Coston, and Wendell Cox. Council members who participated
via conference were Nancy Rutledge Connery, Christopher
Gleason, S. Lee Kling, Charles Moneypenny, Mayor John Norquist,
and Paul Weyrich.
Mr. Carmichael chaired the meeting and Deirdre O'Sullivan
served as secretary.
THE MEETING TO ORDER AND APPROVED THE MINUTES
Mr. Carmichael called the meeting to order, and asked for
an approval of minutes. There were several Council members
who said that they had not read the minutes yet so Mr. Kling
introduced a motion to approve the minutes subject to changes.
The motion was seconded by Mr. Norquist and the minutes
were approved unanimously.
Mr. Tom Till, Executive Director then proceeded to give
his Report. He discussed the various funding and other legislative
proposals dealing with Amtrak that were being discussed
in Congress. He also stated that the Office of the Inspector
General of the U.S. Department of Transportation (OIG) would
be delaying the issuance of their report on Amtrak's financial
situation until mid-November. In addition, he stated that
the Council staff was working on issues related to the Annual
Report that is to be released early in 2002. He also stated
that the Council staff had requested additional financial
information from Amtrak including financial information
on Northeast Corridor infrastructure and on Acela Express.
Mr. Norquist stated that he believed that Amtrak remaining
as a monopoly would continue to disappoint everybody, and
that states should be allowed to use federal highway and
airport money to invest in rail corridors. Mr. Cox stated
that the Council should focus on the task at hand and not
worry about all of the legislation that is currently being
discussed in Congress.
ON A FINDING
Mr. Weyrich stated that he agreed with Mr. Norquist. He
added that in the absence of a Finding, no one, including
Congress, was going to pay attention to the recommendations
of the Council. In addition, he stated that the Congress
was considering legislation that could take the Finding
power away, and make the issue moot. He further stated that
the only way to force Congress to start the debate on the
future of rail passenger system is to make the Finding.
Ms. Connery stated that she agreed with Mr. Weyrich and
said that Council should issue a Finding. Mr. Cox stated
that he also agreed with Mr. Weyrich. Mr. Kling stated that
he had some reservations about making a Finding at this
time. Mr. Moneypenny stated that he hoped the Council was
not rushing into something just so somebody would listen
to what the Council had to say.
Mr. Norquist reiterated his point regarding the problems
of Amtrak being a monopoly and the need for competition.
Mr. Moneypenny stated that during a Congressional Hearing
a few months ago, the freight railroads did not express
an interest in reentering the passenger business, and in
the rush for competition worker's rights need to be protected.
Mr. Coston stated that he has come to the conclusion that
it is unlikely that Amtrak will generate enough revenue
and/or make enough cost reductions to achieve self-sufficiency
by December 2002. He further stated that Amtrak is not doing
a particularly effective job of running its system. Mr.
Carmichael reiterated Mr. Norquist's point that Amtrak is
not capable of doing what it's got to do. In addition, Mr.
Carmichael stated that labor is not the problem; the problem
is how Amtrak is organized. He then asked if the making
of the Finding was the direction the Council wanted to go.
Mr. Norquist stated that it was. Mr. Gleason and Ms. Connery
agreed. Mr. Cox asked if this meant that there would be
a motion or vote that day? Mr. Weyrich stated that he was
prepared to make a motion to make a Finding, and Mr. Cox
stated that he was prepared to second the motion.
Mr. Norquist then stated that he thought the motion for
a Finding Resolution should be drafted and then sent to
the Council members for approval by mail. Mr. Weyrich agreed
to this procedure. Mr. Carmichael accordingly recognized
that there was a motion made by Mr. Weyrich to send out
a mail ballot to make a Finding for the members to approve.
Mr. Cox stated that he would withdraw his second and allow
Mr. Norquist to second the motion. Mr. Carmichael then called
for a vote on the motion. The vote was unanimous. Mr. Norquist
then stated that a Finding Resolution would be drafted and
approved by Mr. Weyrich, himself and other Council members
who were interested and then sent out the rest of the Council
for a notation ballot.
Mr. Carmichael introduced Mary Phillips, the ARC's transportation
analyst, who gave a presentation on Amtrak's financial performance.
In brief, she stated that Amtrak for the purposes of self-sufficiency
lost about $300 million in FY2000 and based on Amtrak's
projections, Amtrak could lose over $400 million in FY2001,
and that Amtrak was not on its glidepath to self-sufficiency.
Following Ms. Phillips's presentation, both Mr. Till and
Mr. Michael Mates, the ARC's Senior Financial Analyst, gave
presentations regarding current legislation in Congress
with Mr. Mates focusing on the various bond proposals.
Following a discussion by the Council members on the presentations,
Mr. Carmichael then asked if there were any comments from
the public. There being none, Mr. Carmichael called for
a short recess before the regional hearing was to begin.
(There were no objections.) The Council adjourned at approximately
UNITED STATES REGIONAL HEARING
For the rest of the day, the Council held a Hearing at
the Southern states were invited to discuss the issues raised
in the Council's Second Annual Report, which was released
in March 2001.
updated January 02, 2001