Amtrak eliminates routes to cut costs

BUFFETED by airline-fare wars and fearing an end to its $952 million federal subsidy, Amtrak said Wednesday it was cutting more than a fifth of its routes and firing 5,500 workers.

Officials said they would begin reducing frequency of some routes Feb. 1 and eliminating others April 1, reducing service by 21 percent. In a news conference, Amtrak President Thomas Downs said Amtrak could no longer afford to serve 530 stations.

Routes to be eliminated are Chicago-Milwaukee, Chicago-Grand Rapids, Mich., and San Jose-Sacramento-Roseville, Calif.

Cuts are expected to save $173 million this fiscal year and more than $360 million in 1996 and annually thereafter. Amtrak has a projected $195 million deficit; ridership is down significantly. American cars safer, more competitive

AMERICAN cars have become safer, easier to maintain, and get more miles to the gallon - all adding up to more competition for Japan, says Jack Gillis, author of ``The Car Book,'' a newly released consumer guide for 1995.

The book rates cars on safety, fuel economy, repair and insurance costs, warranties, and complaints, among others.

Among the best overall cars, the book says, are: the Ford Escort and Mercury Tracer in the subcompact category; the Saab 9000, Volvo 850, and Ford Taurus wagon in the intermediate category; the Ford Windstar, Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager for minivans; the Toyota Corolla and BMW 3 for compacts, and the Cadillac DeVille, Mercury Cougar, and Chrysler LHS-New Yorker for large cars.

Among the worst for complaints: the Acura NSX, the Eagle Vision, and Dodge Intrepid. The biggest gas guzzler is the Lamborghini DB132 Diablo, which gets 14 miles on the highway and 10 in the city.

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