Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

New Yorkers know Boardman

He is a good administrator and possibly compatible with the “activist” Amtrak board. It would be difficult to hire a competent transportation person without an orientation toward NEC service. One thing many may find agreeable is Joseph Boardman’s seeming position that New York should pay more of the cost of the Empire corridor. 

We like that kind of talk out here, except when they start suggesting it for Arkansas and Texas.

Of course, there is a big difference. Arkansas and Texas are served once a day by a frequently late train that is supposed to provide a basic level of service to a huge region. New York state gets a lot more. 

The Times-Union in Albany takes a look at the new Amtrak president. You can read it all here, and get a taste below.

Joseph Boardman didn’t have much of a layover last week between his job heading the Federal Railroad Administration and his new post as president and chief executive of Amtrak.

It was long enough to catch a night’s sleep at his Washington, D.C., home before heading to work at the national passenger railroad the next morning. 

Boardman’s second day on the job was Thanksgiving, and he and his wife, Joanne, visited the crew base for Amtrak workers at Union Station in Washington, introducing themselves to employees and thanking them for working on the holiday.

Boardman has a lot to say about “mobility.” That is defined as the inter-connectivity between modes of transportation. He claims to wish to emphasize this at Amtrak. That is a rather curious development.

America’s transportation system is largely designed not to connect. That deliberate conception benefits highway and airline special interests. While rail connections at airports in Europe are common, it is much different in the U. S. Baltimore is a trip around the world. Newark, as I understand it, does work. O’Hare is on light rail. Mostly, getting from here to there any other way than by car  is an ordeal, and if you object to 14 hours behind the wheel, that alternative is not much fun either. 

This is not criticism for the new man. It’s just commentary on how things work. If he is able to bring this “mobility” concept in front of planners and lawmakers,it will make a big difference in 20 years. 

Today, Amtrak needs more equipment for so-called “long distance” trains and the ability to make some improvements to rail infrastructure out here in the heartland. We are thinking about Gil Carmichael’s proposals for upgrading freight and passenger rail capacity. That could be started quickly and have a strong positive economic impact.


Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

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December 2008