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Re: Replacing EAS with trains

Posted by WillD on Wed Apr 25 04:01:06 2012, in response to Replacing EAS with trains, posted by NIMBYkiller on Wed Apr 25 02:25:23 2012.

Unfortunately it's unlikely a medium speed service would reach the point where they'd consider the Essential Air Service subsidy requirements lifted. After all, Amtrak already runs fairly fast, frequent service from Lancaster to Baltimore with one transfer, yet somehow LNS-BWI is an EAS recipient, to the tune of $1.3 million a year. And all of Illinois' EAS recipients are also served, or nearly served, by their intrastate Amtrak service. That having been said, if the Essential Air Service subsidies to Visalia and Merced, totaling around $3.6 million a year, persist after the California HSR system opens then that will truly be a travesty. But with how incredibly politicized the entire EAS arrangement is, I wouldn't be overly surprised if the airline and their fairy god-congressman found a way to increase the payment because the HSR is now competing with the subsidized airline flights.

The last thing anyone in a position of planning future regional or high speed rail service should be doing is chasing EAS subsidies. The million or so dollars in annual expenditures they'll save aren't likely going to be enough to offset the cost of operating a regional line, and they're going to take a long time to pay off on a high speed rail line. However, if EAS subsidies can be eliminated while connecting large metropolitan areas with high speed rail lines then that's just one more bonus of building a high speed rail line.

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