Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Philadelphia editoral gives fast trains a green light

Of course, we at TFA agree with this fine opinion from It makes reference to Senator Biden and the undue influence of highway and airlien special interests.

For decades now, the United States has been the victim of a “pro-highway” bias, and that has undermined the economic health of the nation as a whole – the small towns canonized by Biden’s opponent Sarah Palin, as well as the big, bad metropolitan areas where most Americans live.

While other developed nations invested in high-speed-rail systems, Congress seemed to be doing its best to kill the not-so-fast system we had.

When gas prices peaked at $4 a gallon and more last spring, the bill for over-reliance on private transportation seemed to be coming due. Yet the price at the pump is only a fraction of the economic toll Americans pay in time wasted sitting in traffic, and in the ripple effects of increased sprawl and environmental degradation.

Even though the price of gas is plunging, at least for the moment, those costs remain. And, as the consensus grows for the need for a new “New Deal” investment to create good-paying jobs, Biden has it exactly right. “We should fast-track funding for the thousands of ready-to-go projects across the country that can quickly put people back to work and lay the foundation for long-term growth,” he said.

The need is obvious. Ridership on SEPTA is up 14 percent over last year, and this for a system that is inadequate at best. Just think of the appeal of trains that go 220 mph, like the system planned for California, which will link all the state’s major cities. A recently released business plan found that, by eliminating the need to build about 3,000 miles of new freeway plus five airport runways and 90 departure gates over the next two decades, California’s high-speed-rail system would return three times its investment.

Last week, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, a Republican, joined with Democratic Sen. John Kerry to introduce the High Speed Rail for America Act of 2008, which would establish a central office to oversee the development of high-speed rail – that is, trains that exceed 110 mph – evaluate projects and provide funding in grants and bonds.

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail, United States High Speed Rail

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December 2008


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