November 16, 2000
The Amtrak Reform
Council (the Council) held its business meeting at the New
York Department of Public Service, One Penn Plaza, Eighth
Floor Boardroom, New York, New York 10019 on November 16,
2000. The Meeting started at 1:15 p.m. and adjourned around
present: Gil Carmichael, Chair; Paul Weyrich, Vice-chair;
Bruce Chapman, Nancy Connery, James Coston, Wendell Cox;
Christopher Gleason, Lee Kling, Charles Moneypenny, Mayor
John Norquist, and Jack Wells, Deputy Administrator, Federal
Railroad Administration representing the Secretary of Transportation,
chaired the meeting and Deirdre O'Sullivan served as secretary.
REMARKS BY GIL CARMICHAEL AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT
called the meeting to order and recognized Mr. Gleason.
Mr. Gleason stated that he would like to thank Joe McHugh
and the Amtrak staff for arranging the Acela trip that the
Council took that morning. Mr. Moneypenny stated that he
would to thank the Council for sending cards, flowers, and
good wishes to him for his recovery.
then asked Mr. Craig Lentzsh, President of Greyhound who
was in the audience to say a few words. Mr. Lentzsh stated
that he would like the country to work towards true intermodalism
with seamless transition between intercity rail, intercity
buses, and local commuter systems. He continued by stating
the Greyhound has been working with Amtrak and now Amtrak
and Greyhound share forty stations. He then stated that
while progress was being made, intercity buses would not
be allowed into the new Farley Building which is to become
the new New York Penn Station. Mr. Carmichael asked for
a motion to have the Council staff look into this matter.
Mr. Gleason seconded the motion and asked to have the Council
staff confer with both the U.S. Department of Transportation
and Amtrak to clarify their positions on this issue. The
motion was passed by the Council unanimously.
then asked for the approval of the July 17th minutes. Mr.
Cox stated that he would like an amendment to the minutes
regarding his position on the high-speed bonds. The secretary
agreed to meet with the Mr. Cox and change the minutes so
that they accurately reflected his position. Mr. Carmichael
asked for approval of the July 17th minutes which were approved
unanimously with amendments. Then Mr. Carmichael asked for
approval of September 7th minutes which were approved unanimously.
DIRECTOR'S REPORT ON NORTHEAST CORRIDOR WORKING PAPER AND
DISCUSSION OF ANNUAL REPORT
Mr. Tom Till,
Executive Director, discussed the process for revising the
Northeast Corridor Working Paper on the issue of "appropriate
separation" of Amtrak-owned infrastructure on Northeast
Corridor from Amtrak train operations. Mr. Till stated that
the staff was still receiving comments on the paper from
Amtrak and the states. In addition, the staff with the approval
of the Chairman's Advisory Committee had contracted with
an organization called BGL Consulting Group, to write a
report on funding the capital for current and new rail infrastructure
in the Northeast and throughout the country. Also, Mr. Till
stated that the staff would like approval of the Council
to take the issues from the Northeast Corridor Paper and
incorporate them into the larger issues of options for restructuring
and how to fund Amtrak that are going to into the Annual
Report to be released in the beginning of next year.
asked if the BGL Consulting Group is being contracted under
a competitive bidding process and asked how much are they
being paid. Mr. Till replied that they are single source
bidder and they are being paid less than $25,000 following
the rules of the Federal Railroad Administration. Mr. Moneypenny
stated that Labor is considered about the money being spent
on consultants. Mr. Till replied that the ARC budget allows
for small consulting contracts for specific work that the
small professional staff of three due to work load should
be done by experts with more experience in that area. Mr.
Till also stated that he is in process of hiring a fourth
professional staffer, a position that has been approved
by the Council but has not been filled due to budget constraints.
Mr. Wells stated
that he would like to discuss the Northeast Corridor Paper.
He stated that basic premise is flawed because there is
no secured funding for the Northeast Corridor infrastructure.
Mr. Kling stated that the first step of dealing with the
Northeast Corridor infrastructure is to isolate the costs
of supporting the infrastructure so then it would be know
how much funding is necessary and right now, the Council
does not know how much the structure costs. Mr. Wells stated
that he had no objections to Amtrak analyzing the costs
of the infrastructure, and Mr. Carmichael stated that the
Council had asked Amtrak for that analysis and has not received
it yet. Mr. Wells then stated that he disagreed with many
of the aspects of the paper and did not believe that paper
was going in the right direction. Mr. Till asked that he
could have Mr. Wells' comments in writing so that they can
be addressed more fully. He also stated that he agreed that
one of the biggest issues is the funding issue because if
the money is not there then "we are just moving deck
chairs on the Titanic."
Cox stated he was concerned about the emphasis that is being
placed on the emerging high-speed rail corridors. He believes
that the staff should not extend a lot of time on this issue
because the issue of the high-speed rail corridors is not
specifically mandated to the Council in the Amtrak Reform
act. Mr. Gleason stated that he disagreed with Mr. Cox and
that the Council should take the lead in the issue of the
future of rail which includes the high-speed corridors.
stated that after talking to the Hill that the impression
people have of the ARC is not good, that the ARC is enemy
of Amtrak and incompetent as well. In addition, he stated
if the Council is to ultimately be successful, more explanation
and time need to be spent by the Council members with the
Hill, because if the Council wants the next report to be
well received, then the perception of the Council needs
to change. Mr. Weyrich asked for a commitment from the Council
members to meet with the Hill and explain to the Hill what
the position of the Council is, before and when the Report
is released. Mr. Carmichael thanked Mr. Weyrich for all
his help in getting the funding for the ARC and stated that
oversight commissions are always framed to be the enemy
of the organization that its has distriction over.
asked for a motion to approve of the Executive Director's
plan to incorporate the Northeast Corridor Working Paper
into the Annual Report to be released early next year. Mr.
Carmichael, Mr. Weyrich, Mr. Chapman, Ms. Connery, Mr. Coston,
Mr. Cox; Mr. Gleason, Mr. Kling, Mr. Moneypenny, and Mayor
Norquist all voted in the affirmative and Mr. Wells voted
in the negative.
stated that he would like Amtrak to become more responsive
to consumers. Mr. Chapman stated that he would like all
the options that are available for restructuring to be discussed
in the Annual Report not just the options that are politically
more viable. Mr. Weyrich asked for a formal motion that
the staff lies out a wide range of options that for restructuring.
Mr. Chapman seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous.
DIRECTOR'S PRESENTATION ON RESTRUCTURING TECHNIQUES AND
Mr. Till stated
that Mr. Chapman had requested that the Council be given
a list of options from the Council staff, should the Council
have to make decisions regarding Amtrak. Mr. Till gave a
presentation on how other countries are rethinking how to
deal with publicly-owned railroads. Some options that are
being examined include: full privatization, restructuring
the organizations, refocusing on reacting to the market
place, and the role of government in policy development.
Mr. Cox stated that he wants more accountability instead
of the current Amtrak system. After further discussion,
the Mr. Weyrich, who was then acting Chair (Mr. Carmichael
left a little early), stated that Mr. Till and the staff
should continue its analysis of options for restructuring
and include them in the Annual Report to be released in
the beginning of next year.
adjourned at approximately 5:15 p.m.