Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

More HSR money on the way?

The National Journal (by way of the CAHSR blog) has word from Secretary LaHood that HSR funding won’t be stopping with just the $8 billion stimulus money. He also stated that the DoT intends to focus on getting projects not just started, but finished in “at least” five parts of the country.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today emphasized the administration’s long-term commitment to expanding high-speed rail service in “five or six regions” of the country, not just with the $8 billion provided in the economic stimulus package President Obama signed into law last week, but also “in subsequent years a very substantial effort.” Meeting with reporters earlier today, LaHood said that for Obama building high-speed rail networks is, “if not his No. 1 priority, certainly at the top of his list. What the president is saying with the $8 billion is this is the start to help begin high-speed rail projects.” He added that the administration “is committed to finding the dollars to not only get them started but to finishing them in at least five parts of the country,” although he declined to elaborate on where these projects might ultimately be built.

It’s good to see that LaHood knows that if you chase two (or eleven) rabbits, you will catch neither. Even finishing five or six American high-speed rail projects is extremely ambitious, and it’s a good indication that we’ll be seeing some more Administration support for fast trains in the future.

NPR ran a story about high-speed rail this morning. It’s well worth a listen, but they also hint at where at least a little more HSR funding might be coming from:

But there may be more good news for fast-train backers: Obama is expected to seek an additional $1 billion for high-speed rail in his outline for the 2010 budget later this week.

That’s not a lot, but it would strengthen the idea of high-speed rail as something we should be funding on a regular basis. Hopefully this will be in addition to John Kerry’s upcoming high-speed rail legislation and priority changes in the 2009 transportation spending bill.


Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics, United States High Speed Rail

Lighter side: the express train to SIN

File this one under a bit of a laugh. Small potatoes California US Rep. Mary Bono Mack was alarmed at how $8 billion in high-speed rail could actually hurt California’s economy and speed vacationers on their way to debauchery. From the Riverside Press-Enterprise:

WASHINGTON – A last-minute provision added to President Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan could literally steer revenue away from Inland Southern California — and directly to Sin City, Rep. Mary Bono Mack said.

But Bono Mack, R-Palm Springs, said Reid — a longtime proponent of a Southern California-to-Las Vegas rail line — stands to gain from the provision at her district’s expense. With a fast train in place to take people from Los Angeles to the Vegas Strip, the Inland area would likely lose out on tourist revenue, particularly at the region’s Indian casinos, she said.

The Republicans made a huge huff about “pork” this last election cycle. Isn’t being against a proposal that could help the rest of your state (and country) just in order to protect a few casinos in your area basically pork in reverse? No mention at all is made of the California High-Speed Rail Project, which, in addition to benefiting from that $8 billion allocation, would be a boon to Southern California. The article makes it seem as if all of that money is going straight to the LA-Vegas Maglev.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics, United States High Speed Rail

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February 2009