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Passenger Trains > Friday the 13th: WSDOT RIFs cut passenger staffing


Date: 03/14/09 09:54
Friday the 13th: WSDOT RIFs cut passenger staffing
Author: GenePoon

In a reorganization (read that as "reduction in force") at Washington State Dept. of Transportation, several key positions handling passenger rail, including the Cascades services, were eliminated yesterday, Friday the 13th. The state effectively no longer has a passenger rail section. Operational staff were also axed and remaining managers will now be responsible for both freight and passenger projects.



Date: 03/14/09 10:05
Re: Friday the 13th: WSDOT RIFs cut passenger staffing
Author: benthere

Are you serious? That's horrible news! Sure there's short term savings, but I think long term costs will be higher, as poorly planned projects usually have more cost over runs and often have to be re-engineered before their design life is up.

I'm a Washington State employee myself, and the axe will be falling at my work site in May. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.



Date: 03/14/09 10:23
Re: Friday the 13th: WSDOT RIFs cut passenger staffing
Author: smitty195

Does this effect line-level Amtrak employees who work the Cascades trains? I'm not too familiar with how WDOT and the Cascades are set up.



Date: 03/14/09 10:29
Re: Friday the 13th: WSDOT RIFs cut passenger staffing
Author: calzephyr48

smitty195 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Does this effect line-level Amtrak employees who
> work the Cascades trains? I'm not too familiar
> with how WDOT and the Cascades are set up.

I doubt that it will (very much) unless the funding for the operation of the trains themselves is cut.



Date: 03/14/09 10:57
Re: Friday the 13th: WSDOT RIFs cut passenger staffing
Author: Macster

Wow, I'm surprised there wasn't anything about this on the DOT website. That's a shame though... This will probably hurt them for securing HSR funding now.



Date: 03/14/09 12:54
WSDOT RIFs cut passenger staffing
Author: jp1822

Were Amtrak Cascades "passenger staffing" working along side of say the state operated "Sounder" commuter service staff? Was it one in the same office/departments or seperate? If separate, then yes, it's a reduction in work force (RIF) with reasoning for the RIF - job consolidation, that is if there are two different offices/departments.

If the assumption is right, one would think that Sounder and Amtrak Cascades staff (working largely behind the scenes, and not front line, but important nonetheless) can now work together to handle both operations and develop Washington State's plan for getting money and high speed rail implementation. Not sure how the Sounder service is setup in the state of Wahington.

Or is the Sounder service contracted out to Amtrak - like a few other state commuter agencies. Some state deparment in the State of Washington had to take over any duties that were assigned as part of the "Amtrak Cascades Service."

Not the best situation or even move considering Washington State is trying for stimulus money and seen as an ideal "model corridor" but I had to oversee a RIF in the company I work for and it was certainly not a highlight in my career!



Date: 03/14/09 13:37
Re: WSDOT RIFs cut passenger staffing
Author: TAW

jp1822 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Were Amtrak Cascades "passenger staffing" working
> along side of say the state operated "Sounder"
> commuter service staff? Was it one in the same
> office/departments or seperate? If separate, then
> yes, it's a reduction in work force (RIF) with
> reasoning for the RIF - job consolidation, that is
> if there are two different offices/departments.

Two different agencies, two different programs, two different types of transportation. Sound Transit is a regional transit agency (Pierce, King, Snohomish county). Sounder is a Lakewood (near Tacoma) - Everett commuter rail program. It has nothing to do with Cascades except they share the same railroad, which takes a lot of coordination in infrastructure projects and in operation.

>
> If the assumption is right, one would think that
> Sounder and Amtrak Cascades staff (working largely
> behind the scenes, and not front line, but
> important nonetheless) can now work together to
> handle both operations and develop Washington
> State's plan for getting money and high speed rail
> implementation.

Sounder staff could not begin to answer the questions FRA would ask about current and future operation or infrastructure plans in order to secure some of the HRS funding. It is all way beyond their scope.

>Not sure how the Sounder service
> is setup in the state of Wahington.
>
> Or is the Sounder service contracted out to Amtrak
> - like a few other state commuter agencies. Some
> state deparment in the State of Washington had to
> take over any duties that were assigned as part of
> the "Amtrak Cascades Service."


Amtrak operates the trains for WSDOT under contract, but does not plan future service or infrastructure or develop and maintain service level and service plan.

>
> Not the best situation or even move considering
> Washington State is trying for stimulus money and
> seen as an ideal "model corridor"

It would seem not.

> but I had to
> oversee a RIF in the company I work for and it was
> certainly not a highlight in my career!

But were the people you were cutting instrumental in scoring hundreds of millions of dollars in business for the company?

TAW



Date: 03/14/09 13:59
Re: WSDOT RIFs cut passenger staffing
Author: Lackawanna484

TAW Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> (snip)
>
> But were the people you were cutting instrumental
> in scoring hundreds of millions of dollars in
> business for the company?
>
> TAW

That's an important point when you're discussing a government agency. Unlike a business, where your sales people bring in the business and start the pipeline, governments often do it in reverse.

Your marketing people, your business development people, your grant writers, etc are often the FIRST to get the axe in government. That's been true in my experience.



Date: 03/14/09 14:21
Re: WSDOT RIFs cut passenger staffing
Author: GenePoon

jp1822 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ...is the Sounder service contracted out to Amtrak...


Sound Transit commuter rail train operations are currently contracted to BNSF Railway. Amtrak is the contractor for equipment maintenance and repair.



Date: 03/14/09 14:27
Re: Friday the 13th: WSDOT RIFs cut passenger staffing
Author: dcautley

Part of the message, boys and girls, is that these are not normal times ! There are many, many government programs (especially state and local government programs) that are going to go away, at least for a while -- even ones that have broad consensus and political support. These agencies must balance their budgets; in Washington and Oregon they are several Billions short. Much of what we like about government service is going to go away.

The no-government forces are winning, even if by default.



Date: 03/14/09 15:05
Re: Friday the 13th: WSDOT RIFs cut passenger staffing
Author: rpcn

The State of Oregon has only 3 employees in the rail division. This division as far as I know is for freight and passenger. I spoke with one of the employees of the rail division about 2 weeks ago and said that the Oregon Cascades is OK until June 1, 2009. I know you cannot even begin to compare Washington and Oregon when it comes to train passenger services. But the buses that are run from Eugene-Portland have been paying a dividend back to ODOT and have been more than paying for themselves. One Cascade round trip is paid for by personalize license plates. The other is paid for by lottery funds, general funds and another fund that I cant remember. But the last number that I heard that Oregon funded as a total to the Cascades is about 2 million. I would like to know the real number but cannot find any up to-date information.



Date: 03/15/09 11:47
Re: Friday the 13th: WSDOT RIFs cut passenger staffing
Author: lwilton

dcautley Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The no-government forces are winning, even if by
> default.

Well, not really. Most no-government (or more likely "less government" types would probably like to see the useless bits of the government that cost money and either do nothing or are actively hostile to the populace go away. But typical government cost cutting is designed to preserve the useless bits while cutting the services people find useful. This is intentional -- people will not complain if the useless bits get cut, and might even like it. That will end up with the useless people out of government. But if the government cuts the useful bits, people will complain, and new money will have to be found to high people back to do the useful stuff that was canceled. (Aalong, of course, with a whole nother boatload of the useless types to "manage" the new project providing the same services as before. Therefore the government ends up costing another billion a year to provide the same services they were providing with less overhead previously.)



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