Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Are state DOT’s staffed for handling rail transit?

Most of us associate our respective state Departments of Transportation (with their oh-so-cute DOT acronyms) with one thing and one thing only: highways. They’re the ones responsible for maintaining the interstates that grow ever wider in and around our cities.

So it should come as no surprise then when Albert Song points out in the Hartford Courant that his state’s DOT, at least, is ill-equiped for managing the passenger rail systems that serve the Northeastern state.

My understanding of the DOT’s function, which has not changed much since I went to work there in 1986, is to construct, service and maintain highways and bridges. The department is well qualified and equipped to build highways in a professional and efficient manner, and is unquestionably good at it.

However, in my view, the DOT is not organized and staffed to direct rail car design, rail car manufacturing nor construction of mass transit system. As far as I knew, no interest or effort was ever expended to develop a transit capability.

Considering that Connecticut lies in one of the more active rail regions in the country, one wonders how capable the DOT of other states, such as those in the West and the South, are in terms of passenger rail. It’s not a happy thought.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail, Travel Woes

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April 2008