Trains For America

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Obama speaks up again on high-speed rail

For those who are wondering how each of the major presidential candidates will be addressing our nation’s tranportation problems, the answer is becoming increasingly clear. John McCain has shown himself to be an enemy of Amtrak and a friend to the auto and air industries, while Barack Obama has said that he wants to put high-speed rail lines on the ground.

In a speech in Miami, Obama again showed concern about our transportation problems. He discussed investment in mass transit, city planning, and a number of other issues, but importantly he also equated construction of high-speed rail lines with national pride:

And we’ll also invest in our ports, roads, and high-speed rails – because I don’t want to see the fastest train in the world built halfway around the world in Shanghai, I want to see it built right here in the United States of America.

It’s great rhetoric, and, as one of the commenters on the linked site points out, people like to hear about American ingenuity much more than they like to be scolded for driving their car to work or flying short distances. What does all this talk mean, though? In the speech, he mentions his plan for a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank, which could support projects such as new rail development, but how do we know all of this won’t go right to the airports and highways? Obama’s website contains a not-so-prominent white paper on transportation issues, which points out his support of Amtrak and even has a paragraph devoted to high-speed rail. It’s not much, but it’s certainly more than McCain has told us about how he would approach passenger train service if elected.

So to Obama: You’re certainly paying lip-service to trains, but what can we really expect from you as President when it comes to catching up with the rest of the world? Does this notion of “Change” apply to our transportation network too? Or will things just be business as usual?

And McCain: Even with rising fuel prices and mounting environmental concerns, are you still intent on tearing Amtrak apart limb-by-limb? High-speed rail is probably something of a non-starter, isn’t it?

Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics, , , , , ,

6 Responses

  1. I don’t think you need to ask Obama what he’ll do. He was instrumental in passing the recent Amtrak funding bill – he was a cosponsor, and hand-held it through for bipartisan approval.

  2. […] do nothing for America’s passenger rail system. At the same time, Obama has shown himself to be a supporter of Amtrak and high-speed rail (two things we rather like here, if you haven’t noticed).The Boston Globe ran a commentary […]

  3. […] speed rail, hsr, midwest hsr, obama, ohio hsr trackback I don’t care if you all are getting tired of hearing that Obama is the rail candidate. I won’t go on again about what it all means.. […]

  4. marlene quaroni says:

    Eisenhower was responsible for the interstate highway system that we have today. Hopefully, Obama will be responsible for the interstate high-speed rail system, a great infrastructure project that would put a lot of people to work. Japan started its Bullet train in 1964, that’s 45 years ago! Why are we so far behind? In addition, I live in Miami. The Florida East Coast railroad, which was constructed by Henry Flagler and led to the growth of southeast Florida, has been used for freight only since a labor strike in the late 1960’s. Amtrak passengers traveling to Jacksonville and beyond are routed almost to Tampa, on Florida’s west coast. The FEC line must return to passenger rail as soon as possible. It would save energy and aid the economy. Amtrak and the FEC had a deal in 2001 to run the train on that track, but, it fell apart because of lack of money!!!

  5. unknown says:

    ROTFLMAO! Marlene, do you really think that getting Amtrak on the FEC will save the economy? That has to be one of the stupidest things I have ever heard. We need to stop with all this reckless spending of money we don’t have and save money so we can pay off debt. If Amtrak wants to run on the FEC, let them and FEC pay for this their damn selves. I have nothing to do with this, so I nor any other taxpayer should not have to pay for this crap, nor do I want to see Monopoly paper money printed from the Federal Reserve used to pay for this.

  6. Woody says:

    unknown, Try to get a grip on yourself. Marlene said that Amtrak service on the FEC could “aid the economy.” She didn’t say the trains could save it, not after what the banksters and the Bushies did.

    Pay off debt, you say? That was what Bill Clinton was doing, remember? Then Bush took over and cut taxes on the rich and then ran a deficit every year of his miserable administration. Now you want a change in policy? Where we you when Bush was NOT paying the debt but was running up deficits in every single budget year?

    Anyway, the State of Florida has been working on new passenger service on the FEC. The plan is strongly supported by Congresscritter John Mica the top Repub on the House Transportation Committee.

    Here’s link to a current report:

    And as for government spending on infrastructure, that’s what government is for. That’s why the feds pay for runways and other facilities at airports, why the government pays to dredge harbors and the Intracoastal Canal, why Congress transferred general tax money to pay for more highways when the gas tax wasn’t enough.

    If you don’t like the traditional American way of investing in transportation infrastructure, you could leave the U.S. Go to any number of Third World countries where such things don’t much happen. Try Haiti — you wouldn’t even have to move very far.

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