Trains For America

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Boston Globe on McCain and the railways

We’ve been saying it for some time, but more and more people are beginning to realize that McCain will 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 this week on the issue:

Train travel is finally becoming a third rail of politics. The first one to fry over it might be John McCain.

McCain said, “Amtrak needs to make more progress before any further funding schemes are enacted,” while at the same time calling any money for progress a “multibillion-dollar blank check.” In 2002, McCain declared that “Amtrak should be restructured to eliminate its reliance on the American taxpayers and to allow for its privatization.”

Suddenly, the traveling public is demanding the development of commuter and high-speed intercity rail. According to the American Public Transportation Association, light rail (streetcars) was up 10 percent in the first quarter of this year, commuter rail was up by 6 percent, and subways were up 4 percent (Boston subway travel was up by 9 percent).

Are trains really becoming that electrified third rail of politics? Can a presidential candidate now shock himself on it and damage his campaign? Even these days I’m not sure I’d go that far… but wouldn’t it be nice?


Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics

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July 2008