Libertarian Party and passenger rail

General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

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Libertarian Party and passenger rail

Postby SouthernRailway » Sat Feb 25, 2017 8:06 pm

How's the Libertarian Party on passenger rail issues (and rail generally)?

I assume that it would want no subsidies and no government involvement in rail, which could be good for freight rail but bad for passenger rail, but does the Libertarian Party even think for a minute about Amtrak or other passenger rail? Are there any Libertarians in office with voting histories or the like that indicate their views on passenger rail?

Just curious. Thanks.
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Re: Libertarian Party and passenger rail

Postby mtuandrew » Sat Feb 25, 2017 11:18 pm

Mod Note: on hold for a sec.

*intermission music*
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Re: Libertarian Party and passenger rail

Postby Jeff Smith » Mon Feb 27, 2017 1:17 pm

Guidance: I don't mind this topic at all. I actually consider myself a pragmatic libertarian (whatever that is, who knows!). In any case, just keep it away from hyerbole' (yeah, cause we always manage not to turn politics as it relates to rail into hyerbole' LOL).

My two cents? The dogmatic version of libertarianism is everything free market, and minimalist government. A pragmatic view is that investment in public transportation helps the viability of free-market economics.

Not sure how much more there is to talk about. But I look forward to the debate :P
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Re: Libertarian Party and passenger rail

Postby SemperFidelis » Mon Feb 27, 2017 3:16 pm

Are we allowed to make book on the number of posts until this thread is locked? :-D

I, too, look forward to a reasoned, intelligent, measured, and mature debate...on politics...in America...in 2017...on the internet...on a site where a disagreement about WMATA schedules is reason enough to insult another human being's worth.
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Re: Libertarian Party and passenger rail

Postby SemperFidelis » Mon Feb 27, 2017 3:18 pm

Every libertarian politician I have worked with has had the same (party?) line about passenger rail. They are all for it, so long as it is run by private industry and at no cost to the taxpayer.

That pretty much encompasses thier view on everything.
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Re: Libertarian Party and passenger rail

Postby electricron » Mon Feb 27, 2017 4:19 pm

SouthernRailway wrote:How's the Libertarian Party on passenger rail issues (and rail generally)?

I assume that it would want no subsidies and no government involvement in rail, which could be good for freight rail but bad for passenger rail, but does the Libertarian Party even think for a minute about Amtrak or other passenger rail? Are there any Libertarians in office with voting histories or the like that indicate their views on passenger rail?

Just curious. Thanks.

Why not having government subsidies for passenger trains is bad?
Per
https://www.aol.com/article/2009/10/29/ ... /19211953/
Amtrak loses $32 per passenger on average per trip. To eliminate the subsidies, all Amtrak would have to do is raise the average fare $32. That doesn't mean increase every fare $32, which would work by the way, but increasing the average fare by $32. That could be done with an increase fare of $(?) per mile, or by another formula of sharing the expense. Some trains would make higher profits, but other trains would be less unprofitable. But I don't think $32 more per fare on average will drive future passengers away.
Amtrak long distance fare structure is based on zones as is, I wonder what it would look like if the fares were based on a per mile, or per hour basis? Maybe all Amtrak needs is to change the way they charge fares?
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Re: Libertarian Party and passenger rail

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Feb 27, 2017 7:50 pm

Ron: $32 is the difference between a Northeast Regional and a flight + 2 taxi/Lyft/Uber fares. It's the difference between an off-corridor Regional and a car rental. A one-way Regional fare plus $32 would buy a full r/t on a bus and a hotel! You'd lose a lot of passengers, especially in the areas of the country more inclined to socialist than libertarian ideals (the northeast and west coasts and the Chicago hub) which drive the majority of Amtrak's ridership. Short of also ending Federal support for interstate highways and passing the full cost of road maintenance to drivers via toll rather than gas tax and general tax, there is no feasible comparison.

Did some research - sorry I don't have sources, but I noted one writer at the Cato Institute ca 2009 calling for the abolition of Amtrak, and another at the American Heritage Institute(?) calling for Republicans to embrace it as a part of America's past that worked well. Didn't see anything come up for lp.org, did anyone else?
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Re: Libertarian Party and passenger rail

Postby AgentSkelly » Tue Feb 28, 2017 4:07 am

One of my good friends is a Libertarian. He said the issue in the party is complicated, but it falls under transportation subsides in general, which the party is of course against on the federal level. However, with that said, high speed rail requires good initial capital to build infrastructure, which he said a Libertarian federal government should be in a position to help with that thru the sale bonds or a loan guarantee to a private operator.
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Re: Libertarian Party and passenger rail

Postby bdawe » Wed Mar 01, 2017 2:10 pm

I find that there's two types of libertarians when it comes to transportation - there's the 'carbertarian' types, like Randall O'Toole or Wendell Cox who have constructed this elaborate construct where the car is the entirely natural market result of individual preference and any appearance massive public support is entirely coincidental.

There's a seemingly less noisome type of libertarian who can see that nearly all transportation markets are riven with subsidies and that the price mechanism doesn't really function properly as a efficient means of allocating resources any more, especially in the people-moving business.

These differences lead to rather dramatic policy prefernces
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Re: Libertarian Party and passenger rail

Postby leviramsey » Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:07 pm

I'm basically in the latter camp (I'd answer to "market liberal" or maybe "bleeding heart libertarian"). Ultimately disentangling all of the subsidies and the path dependence effects of past attempts to master plan transportation (with the anti-rail/pro-car sequence of interventions that started with the formation of the ICC and were uniformly pushed by progressives until about 1960 (when pretending that the railroad interests were running things kind of became laughable) being the single biggest contributor*) is probably impossible, so I think the best that can be done (over and above repealing zoning (which, yes, Houston has even though they don't call it "zoning")) is to make the subsidies market neutral. Each mode of transportation should operate at at least 100% farebox recovery (including increasing gas taxes when that's the way a given state has chosen to fund its interstates/trunk highways). Implement the subsidy, for instance, via a refundable tax credit that covers transportation expenses above a certain percentage of income.

*: I find it rather striking that the same sort of people who argue for government-imposed price controls in medicine often decry decades of underinvestment in rail infrastructure and the absence of public transportation options in many cities; both of those phenomena more or less directly stem from price controls (ICC regulation for rail, nickel fares for streetcars)....
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Re: Libertarian Party and passenger rail

Postby BandA » Fri Jun 02, 2017 1:45 pm

Are there many Libertarian politicians in office? Are they elected as Libertarians or as members of some other party but market/brand themselves as Libertarian? I don't think we have any elected in MA, there probably a lot in NH. NH had a controversy years ago when a Libertarian was appointed to manage the State Liquor Stores, but that is OT. NY has an interesting system where politicians can be nominated by more than one party.

The idea of the $32 fare increase probably wouldn't work - if they could they already would have. Amtrak has a "sophisticated" demand-pricing model sort of like the airlines.
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Re: Libertarian Party and passenger rail

Postby umtrr-author » Sun Jun 04, 2017 8:50 pm

This piece from the NY Times of June 3, 2017 might be a bit of a hint of what might occur.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/03/us/p ... f=politics

Fair use quote:

President Trump will lay out a vision this coming week for sharply curtailing the federal government’s funding of the nation’s infrastructure and calling upon states, cities and corporations to shoulder most of the cost of rebuilding roads, bridges, railways and waterways.
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Re: Libertarian Party and passenger rail

Postby Balerion » Wed Jun 07, 2017 7:10 am

BandA wrote:Are there many Libertarian politicians in office? Are they elected as Libertarians or as members of some other party but market/brand themselves as Libertarian? I don't think we have any elected in MA, there probably a lot in NH. NH had a controversy years ago when a Libertarian was appointed to manage the State Liquor Stores, but that is OT. NY has an interesting system where politicians can be nominated by more than one party.

The idea of the $32 fare increase probably wouldn't work - if they could they already would have. Amtrak has a "sophisticated" demand-pricing model sort of like the airlines.


The NH House has two Libertarians, neither of whom were elected as a Libertarian. Both switched parties, one from the GOP and one from the Dems. There's also someone in Nebraska's unicameral legislature. I think that's it.
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Re: Libertarian Party and passenger rail

Postby RussNelson » Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:13 am

bdawe wrote:There's a seemingly less noisome type of libertarian who can see that nearly all transportation markets are riven with subsidies and that the price mechanism doesn't really function properly as a efficient means of allocating resources any more, especially in the people-moving business.

I see all transportation markets poisoned with subsidies, and I want them all taken away. Then, if passenger rail can survive, it should.
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Re: Libertarian Party and passenger rail

Postby Dick H » Sat Jul 08, 2017 7:00 pm

Mr. Nelson obviously lives in the boonies.
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