Trains For America

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Schwarzenegger essay on infrastructure hits Newsweek

Newsweek brings in the California governor to make some important points on transportation policy and infrastructure. He is hitting one of our favorite themes: the transportation gap with every other nation on earth.

An important highlight follows, and here is a link to the entire thing.

We’re a society where e-mail, handheld devices, videoconferencing and thousands of satellites in orbit keep us connected. So why do Americans stand in long security lines at the airport, in our socks, just to sit in the terminal for hours as our flights get delayed because of overcrowded airport runways?

None of this makes sense in America. It doesn’t make sense that in the greatest country on Earth we still rely on trains that go the same speed as they did 100 years ago, so our shipping times and commutes are longer than other countries. It doesn’t make sense that we drive across unsafe bridges like the one that collapsed in Minnesota and live behind inadequate levees like those that failed in New Orleans.

If we were to come up with an analogy, I’d compare our situation to running a company. Imagine trying to compete in today’s business world of BlackBerrys, e-mail alerts, videoconferences and PowerPoint when all you have is an IBM Selectric typewriter and a single telephone landline. You’re going to get beat. And when you think about America’s aging infrastructure, we’re going to get beat, too—by our competitors China, India, Europe and Brazil. Travel overseas and you see faster commuter trains, better public transportation, double-decker freeways, and more efficient ports. Meanwhile, infrastructure spending as a share of gross domestic product in the United States has dropped 25 percent over the past 20 years. So, government spending is at an all-time high, while investment in our critical infrastructure is at a historic low.

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

8 Responses

  1. jlhughes says:

    Saying ANYTHING good about Schwarzenneger’s attitude toward transit ignores the that fact that for three years in a row he has robbed local transit agencies of operating funds because he refuses reinstate a motor vehicle fee he eliminated the day after he took office. That single act cost the state $4 billion a year. The economic decline has done the rest. This year the governor is proposing the complete elimination of state support for local transit.

    This is a guy who claims to be concerned with global warming. He is a farce and a hypocrite and should be recognized as such. His acts speak louder than any twisted words he might offer.

  2. Cal says:

    YES that was foolish to end the motor vehicle fee…2 years of that alone would have been a nice down on our HSR…well at least he is trying to get fed backing for it.

  3. I guess who cares. He is a big talking head and maybe the rest of us can get some action out of it. The more he talks the better our chances get. I live in the Midwest and I’m just praying for Chicago to get connected to Milwaukee and then hopefully Madison and then off to Minnesota. The KRM (Kenosha, Racine, Milwaukee rail connection) has been at a standstill, locked in political bickering for years.


  4. Allan says:

    Sorry guys, I side with Arnold on the MVT. If transits is so good, then it should be able to stand on it’s own feet. I don’t mind the gov’t paying the capital costs but the fees should, at a minimum, cover the O&M costs!

    The Las Vegas monorail fares cover 129% of the O&M costs. The only drag on it is that it needs more money to cover the capital costs … something which no public transits has done in recent memory.

  5. You should know better says:

    1 & 2: That was an ILLEGAL tax.

  6. Please define a “legal tax”.

    So you think all our roads are free??? They would go back to dirt if left unattended. Do you think the roads system could “stand on it’s own feet” without all the subsidies? The are subsidized up the ying yang. Take a look at the great streetcar scandal of the late 1940s. GM, Big Oil and Firestone (among others) destroyed streetcar mass transit for personal gain. They knocked us back to the stone age.

    How do the roads get plowed and salted? Potholes fixed? Roads resurfaced? New roads build? Lanes widened? Bridges repaired as they fall into the Mississippi?

    Don’ t give me any crap about how great autos are. It’s all a sham. I love my cars (my BMW rocks) but we need other options (just like Europe) NOW!!! The sad thing is that we would still have most of our light rail system intact if our corrupt government officials wouldn’t have turned a blind eye (and lent a helping hand) to big business greed.

    Local transit systems benefit us all, not just big oil, tires, cars and road builders. The US needs the best bullet trains on Earth. We need to lead again instead of being the sorry joke that we’ve become.


  7. Allan says:

    The General Motors streetcar conspiracy has been repeatedly debunked by academic researchers who are willing to look at the facts and not just the myth.

  8. Jon says:

    Allan –

    Watch the Underground Cities Story on LA and see if the GM Streetcar theory has been debunked ….

    As for Books – if that is more your style try – Asphalt Nation

    So have you done your research at the John Locke Foundation or what?

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