Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Florida AWOL on HSR

Ridership on the Silver Star between New York and Miami is up. That is the good news reported in the Tampa Tribune. They did infer that Amtrak ridership was down nationally. It would be more accurate to say that ridership on long distance trains has not been hit by economic conditions. Here is the link. It’s a good story that has a bit of bad news tucked away several paragraphs down.

Florida is not as well positioned as at least a dozen other states to obtain federal stimulus funds for Amtrak because some funds are expected to go to states with well developed rail programs, Capon said.

However, the Florida High Speed Rail Authority submitted a resolution to Gov. Charlie Crist on March 2 seeking the governor’s support to seek funds from an $8 billion pool for high speed rail in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The authority had been inactive since November 2004, when voters opposed granting state taxes for high-speed rail between Tampa, Orlando and Miami,

This is especially disheartening when one considers the dense population in many parts of Florida and the many cities.We suffer from a serious lack of vision.

It would be more acurate to say that government is a lot more responsive to the well oiled special interest machines than the needs and wishes of real people.


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

Detroit News calls rail plans “boondoggle”

TFA proudly calls your attention to the Detroit News. Today’s editorial proves that all the bone-headed clock stoppers do not sip mint julips and call the Hogs (an Arkansas football expression). Yep, they’ve got some very intelligent Yankees up there in Michigan. They do a great job runnin’ them there car companies.

You are going to love it so surf over on this link and check out the brilliant commentary.

No matter where the high-speed rail is eventually located, the concern is that taxpayers will never see the end of their transit investment. Mass transit systems never pay for themselves.

Tim Hoeffner, an administrator with the Michigan Department of Transportation, argues that the economic development resulting from the rail line will far outweigh the costs to taxpayers. Transit experts project a $4 to $8 return in the value of development for each dollar invested in transit.

The idea of such a return and the short-term jobs generated by such a rail system are tempting.

But Michigan ought to be wary of such claims. Amtrak, the national passenger rail service, has operated on subsidies since its inception. It was ordered by a congressional study group in 1997 to create a plan for weaning itself from the federal treasury by 2002. Its current chief executive told Congress in January that a decline in projected ridership argued for continuing subsidies,

Obviously written by a former auto exec. Very firm grip on reality there.

How many billion has GM already blown through? And which highways do not require regular resurfacing, new signs, and new lights?

I leave the further commentary to our readers and we are all hoping for a quick recover in Michigan.

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

HSR in the South

I am a native southerner. At one time, Southern’s crack passenger train was called “The Southerner.” Down here  (my part of this blog is composed in Little Rock, Arkansas), people love their pickup trucks, guns, barbque, football and that special hard headed culture. My great grandfather was a captain in the CSA. I do have some creds.

The south is way behind on public transportation. That is part of the independent thing and also a function of the fierce desegregation battle of the 1970’s. This is also the poorest and least educated (and most over-churched) part of America. And before you go off calling me some sort of commie-lovin’ atheist, I am a student of theology and a member of the Anglican Mission in America. We are on the “conservative” end of the religious spectrum. I do have somecreds.

They might as well call the Arkansas Department of Transportation the Arkansas Truckers and Road Builders Department. The entire system is sold out to the special interests, just like everywhere else only worse. Bill Clinton got Little Rock on one of thoseHSR corridors, but that’s just for show.

The Southern Political Report, an outfit that generally knows from when it speaks, has a story this morning about the tremendous advantages enjoyed by North Carolina (home of the late Sen. Jessie Helms). Bottom line is this. You can expect to see some of that federal HSR money flow into the Tar Heel state.

North Carolina is a southern state with plenty of churches and political conservatives. It is also blessed with an over-abundance of college educated folks who look to  the futureas much as the past.

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

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March 2009