Sunday, January 18, 2009

President-elect Obama's private car

AP moved an article on the Georgia 300, which he used Jan. 17 for his Philadelphia-Washington trip.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Bail 'em out the old-fashioned way

First it was the auto industry. Now the steel industry is looking for federal help. Quoting The New York Times:
The industry itself is turning to government for orders that, until the September collapse, had come from manufacturers and builders. Its executives are waiting anxiously for details of President-elect Barack Obama’s stimulus plan, and adding their voices to pleas for a huge public investment program — up to $1 trillion over two years — intended to lift demand for steel to build highways, bridges, electric power grids, schools, hospitals, water treatment plants and rapid transit.
Quick, can anyone think of a type of public infrastructure that uses lots and lots of steel?


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Make NY-DC a no-fly zone, says former airline CEO

Former AMR Corp. CEO Robert Crandall has a reputation for not mincing words. Admirers and detractors agree that Crandall calls 'em like he sees 'em. Here's how Dow Jones reporter Aude Largorce summarized some of Bob Crandall's remarks at the Airline Strategy Summit in London on Nov. 11:

Crandall made a few recommendations for the U.S. airline sector to be returned to health more permanently.

First, the U.S. needs a national transportation plan that takes into account emissions, the planet's fast-diminishing oil reserves and the need for good jobs to be created.

"Four percent of the world's population can't keep consuming 25% of its oil," he said, referring to the U.S. Crandall went as far as saying that flying should be banned between cities efficiently linked by rail, such as New York City and Washington D.C.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wait, don't Japanese passenger trains "make money"?

From AP via
Purr-fect station chief brings passengers back

The Kishikawa line had been losing $4.9 million a year as passenger numbers fell steadily to as low as about 5,000 a day, or some 1.9 million a year.

Facts can be so inconvenient, can't they?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Northwest loses $258 per passenger in the 1st quarter

$4.1 billion loss

divided among 15.9 million passengers boarded in the 1st quarter.

Yessir, Northwest plays second fiddle to no one, not even its putative merger partner.

All these losses are being borne by shareholders. For now. But what happens when a company runs out of shareholder equity? Who picks up the tab then?

Delta loses $244 per passenger in the 1st quarter

$6.261 billion loss

divided by
25.6 million passengers boarded in the 1st quarter.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Breaking: Subsidized carrier loses $36 per passenger last quarter!

But since you won't find this pseudo stat quoted in any financial news story or press release mentioning United Airlines, here's how to calculate it.

1. First, take United's 1st quarter loss of $542 million.

2. Then add up all of United's passenger boardings in January (4.8 million), February (4.7 million) and March (5.7 million).

3. Divided $542 million into 15.2 million, and you get (ta da!) $35.70 loss per passenger.

Show of hands, now: Who's ready to break this thing up and liquidate it?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Why connections matter: Skybus edition

Critics of Amtrak service prefer to characterize the national network as a collection of discrete trains. They find it convenient to completely ignore the network effect that occurs in places like Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington.

Why does the network effect matter? Consider the curious case of Skybus, the Columbus-based carrier that just failed yesterday, April 4.

Until the day it shut down, Skybus warned its passengers that its hub wasn't a hub. Here's some text from the "Where We Fly" page cached at Google (as of April 5), with emphasis added:

Currently, Skybus does not offer any connecting flights (for example, from Los Angeles through Columbus to Boston). And we don’t offer flights between our destination cities (for example, between Los Angeles and San Francisco).

Please note: It’s possible to create your own multi-point trip through our Columbus and Greensboro bases, but we don’t recommend it. Our flight schedules are very tight, and you may miss your connection. If you do create your own multi-point trip, please keep the following in mind:
  • You must claim and recheck your baggage between flights. If you create your own multi-point trip, you must collect your own baggage at each stop and re-check it yourself – Skybus does not move your bags automatically. For more information, see our Help Center section on baggage.
  • Leave enough time between flights. If you book a multi-point trip, we recommend that you allow at least two hours between your flights. This will help ensure that you have enough time to retrieve and re-check your bags, and be at your gate in time. All of our check in and gate deadlines still apply if you purchase multiple flights.
In other words, the Skybus route system was a collection of discrete routes. With no connection between them.

Don't let any critic or so-called rail fan tell you different: Networks matter.