Brian O’Neill’s column is getting a lot of discussion because of his suggestion of electrification for Amtrak east coast routes and a slow timetable for equipment repairs. You can read it all in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
All these “shovel ready” construction projects to jump-start the economy will do nothing more than maintain the bridges and highways we have. Amtrak, meanwhile, quietly waits with the existing technology to move the most people with the least fuel.
Mr. Boardman sees an electrified American rail system, both for passengers and freight. The passenger side is well-established in the Northeast, and he’d like Amtrak to move south from Washington, D.C., and eventually electrify an East Coast line from Maine to Miami.
Next up would be the routes from Chicago to Washington and New York. You don’t have to be a geography major to know that Pittsburgh would be in that latter path.
The bad news is that the Amtrak national system is stuck for the next five eyars. That means more politics and more of the non-ending politics of delay. It is the kind of thing that best serves highway and airlines well developed sense of entitlement.
We must convince others and we must get lawmakers to pay attention. Amtrak needs a permanent stable source of funding.That probably means a cut of the national gasoline tax.