Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Harrisburg – Lancaster, a “no go”

The “corridor” is 35 miles, almost too short for TFA commentary. These are two cities and folks in this part of Pennsylvania seem to have a gripe about transportation dollars going to the big cities.

But, isn’t that where it is needed most?

The politics on this look so sadly predictable. State officials are totally in the bag to special interests. The highway lobby runs the show. Pennsylvania might be considered a battleground in reining in pesky rail projects.Where big dollars are in the mix, desperate actions will sometimes be taken by those who stand to lose.

The proposed project uses existing track. That should make some difference. it seems that the state contribution is $20 million, pocket change in the larger context.

The real question is the reliability of the ridership projections. If those surveys were taken with gas at $2 a gallon, results might be much better today. This argument about buying every passenger an automobile instead of building an essential service which would potentially decrease auto pollution resonates with the many lies frequently used in arguments against Amtrak, particularly the Sunset. This statement is just a little too smug.

It may be that this line is a terrible idea. You decide. The Patriot News files a complete report.

The commuter rail project known as Corridor One hasn’t been on the fast track, but now it faces a monumental hurdle.

State Transportation Secretary Allen Biehler said it is unlikely that the proposed Harrisburg-to-Lancaster rail line will get significant state money during Gov. Ed Rendell’s administration. Biehler wrote a searing critique of the project in a column for The Sunday Patriot-News.

Citing what he said were Capital Area Transit’s projections of 444 daily one-way passengers, Biehler said the line would run an annual operating deficit approaching $11.5 million.

Looking at it another way, Biehler said, that’s more than $51,000 per year per round-trip rider.

“It would be cheaper to lease each rider a car and pay for downtown parking, fuel and maintenance, and insurance,” Biehler wrote.

Filed under: Regional USA Passenger Rail

One Response

  1. Pat Lynch:

    Interesting and informative! I somehow had missed the Al Biehler Patriot News piece.

    My group and your blog are laboring in the same fields. We would be delighted to be listed in your Links, and I would like to add your email address to our mailing list.

    Best regards,

    Peter Javsicas
    PenTrans Executive Director

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September 2007


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