Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Well, that was certainly a fair and even-handed treatment of high speed rail. I am sure all the proponents of HSR are shocked to learn that the $10 billion will not immediately connect all the urban centers with European-style trains. Reason.TV certainly knows, as do transportation planners and politicians, that HSR is expensive. It demands dedicated right-of-way, high-tech signals, and special equipment. This can, however, translate into American jobs for those will build the equipments and roadbeds, and keep up the railway infrastructure.

I am sure some of our readers enjoyed the vintage steam locomotives and hand cars. No, we’re a bunch of brainless fools, so don’t worry about the insult. Don’t let it cross your mind.

The environmental question is a good one and HSR would, in my opinion, bring real environmental gains if it were running at almost full occupancy. However, even my weak argument overlooks the tremendous harm that would be done by more highway construction. That is exactly what Reason.TV suggests without batting an eye.

Who would be surprised that the Reason.TV answer to transportation needs is more highways and airports. Now, where have we heard that before? Is it now the mantra of the past 20 years?

And that $35 billion to Amtrak? The Reason folks conveniently forgot to tell hapless viewers that this was the total Amtrak subsidy since 1972. Heck, that tough young guy on the film was probably not born in 1972. Amtrak pays property taxes, payroll taxes, and makes al sorts of contributions to Railroad Retirement.

Don’t get me wrong. Amtrak has plenty of failings and some of those might be corrected by some stable management. Amtrak has been a favorite whipping boy since the day it was created by Richard Nixon. Amtrak provides good transportation service to many places that really need it with very little subsidy of support. How would you like to hear that your company was going to be run out of business every year? Well, that is what Amtrak employees live with, so lighten up.

Realistically, the country needs a mix of improved fast conventional trains and European style trains on the shorter corridor runs. This would require planning and cooperation. What was I thinking?


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

He’s baaaaack!

Well, kinda’.

The real die-hard followers here, and I am glad you are one of those, know that this blog has been in a general state of disrepair for some time now. Part of this has to do with being somewhat overwhelmed by my classwork, and some new projects I have taken on this fall. There has also been a general sense of discouragement at the national mood and the seeming inability to do anything that might be good for regular people.

After Tuesday’s election, I had pretty much decided to be done with TFA, post a simple farewell message and leave the blog up as an information resource for others who might still be fighting in the far-flung outpost of America. Let me tell you, things are about to get bad for Amtrak, HSR, and many social programs that provide the very existence for many elderly, disabled, poor families, and veterans.

Sometime Wednesday afternoon, I began to consider things from a theological standpoint. Now, this blog is certainly not about religion and it never will be. Nonetheless, if we are Christians (as I am), every aspect of our life is influenced by faith. If the Kingdom of God is already among us, Christians must give a witness to what is right. That holds even when times are bad.

So I will be posting from time to time. Feel free to post comments. This is going to be very hard and the national Amtrak system is in very immediate and grave danger of severe cutbacks or even complete elimination. You all need to understand that, compared to the enormous suffering about to be inflicted upon millions of helpless people, what happens to a few passenger trains is not going to seem all that important.

Transportation represents an important aspect of the quality of life, especially in many small and medium towns. Will human beings live in dignity or be treated as cogs in a large machine? This is one area where it will be decided. It is a fight worth fighting.

Filed under: Uncategorized

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November 2010