In the contest of passengers vs. freight, freight wins.
The incentives clearly favor freight rail
One must remember that the BNSF railroad has a much greater business interest in operating freight traffic in a timely and efficient manner than it does with the passenger trains that operate on its tracks (“Amtrak, Northstar lines leave many cold, stranded,” Feb. 7). The performance incentives as well as disincentives from shippers such as UPS, FedEx, USPS, J.B. Hunt and Schneider, to name a few, are generally much greater than incentive payments from Amtrak and North Star. For example, once the on-time arrival window is missed for the eastbound Empire Builder at St. Paul (it used to be 30 minutes), most if not all of the monetary performance incentive is lost.
The second part of the congestion problem is the longtime culture for the downsizing of infrastructure. Career advancement was significantly improved when trackage, yards, rolling stock and employees were cut. Few senior managers were well-served by pleading for more capacity. Obviously, the recent surge in crude oil traffic is having a significant impact on the capital investment plan on the North Dakota/Minnesota corridor.
While the traveling public is aware of and inconvenienced by poor passenger-train performance, shippers and shareholders have much greater leverage with a railroad’s operating plan.
DAN GOODMUNDSON, Wayzata
This stupidity claims another victim
I was holding my breath when I heard the news that a 26-year-old bicyclist had been killed early this week in Minneapolis. I am a mother of two twenty-somethings who ride bikes and don’t own cars, and my heart stopped for a few very long seconds. I was relieved when I didn’t recognize the name, but then felt sick to read about Marcus Nalls’ family, fiancée and friends (“Cops: Drunken driver killed cyclist,” Feb. 5).
I admire urban cyclists, and I fear for their lives. I am so proud of them for helping to make our city more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, and I’d like to think of our city as a great place for young people who love the fitness, freedom and ecology of biking.
I’m not usually a hater, but I hate drunken drivers! The laws don’t really penalize vehicular homicide — not compared with how badly the families of the victims suffer. I have a close friend who was killed by a drunken driver four years ago, and it still hurts, and it just seems so endlessly stupid — a real waste of a wonderful human life.
There is a ghost bike for Marcus at the corner of Franklin and Garfield Avenues, and a memorial ride for him at 3:30 today, starting at Loring Park. Prayers and love to his family.
MINA LEIERWOOD, Minneapolis
The union’s message isn’t being received
Anyone else tired of the incessant teacher and teachers union complaints? Education Minnesota President Denise Specht (“One flavor of reform leaves a bad taste,” Feb. 6) conveniently leaves out a summary of what one gathers are the motives of the statewide teachers union and others in the business. It looks like the desired teacher results would be:
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.