Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Pre-election train jitters

It’s a big night for rail, and well, maybe even the rest of the country. Here’s some the primary train related issues to keep your eye on if you can tear yourself away from the television. And of course we’ll be providing some analysis here at TFA when all the beans are counted.

1. The presidential election. Well, obivously. But really, this is as much about who gets put in office as who they appoint to key transportation-related posts. Are we going to have a Department of Transportation that continues to be focused singularly on highways and airports? Will the Federal Transit Administration continue to tighten its purse strings with regard to new transit spending? Will next year’s transportation bill be favorable to rail travel? I don’t think I need to articulate again the positions the candiates have taken on these issues. However, Streetsblog has a good analysis of the possible DOT picks for each canidate.

2. California High-Speed rail. If California’s Proposition 1A passes, it will be a huge shot in the arm to HSR in America. California needs to be the state leading the way when it comes to providing clean, convenient, efficient, stimulating, and future-proof transportation in these tough economic times. As always, Robert Cruickshank is the last word and best resource on all things CAHSR.

Today we’re gonna show them that a new force is here in California. A force that demands sustainable and secure prosperity for future generations, built not on imported oil and global warming but on renewable energy and mass transportation.

I will be dropping in at various times during the day, and will update with the latest vote totals as we get them from the Secretary of State. Given the high number of absentee ballots we may not know the outcome tonight. But there is one thing we do know:

We’re gonna win this thing.

3. And considering that transit and trains go hand in hand, it’s worth keeping an eye on various transit proposals that may be in your area. For instance, Seattle’s Proposition 1 would authorize a much needed build-out to a growing and progressive city (I also get the impression that they’re tired of being shown up by their smaller neighbor, Portland, in the transit space race). The Seattle Transit Blog has been pushing hard for a number of months now, and they’re always worth checking out.

So get out there!

Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics, , , , , ,

McCain wants MORE trains (for other countries)

Now, it’s been well established that presidential candidate John McCain is not a fan of Amtrak. In fact, he’s called shutting the service down if he was elected a “non-negotiable issue.” Subsidies for highways? Fine. But not for passenger rail. You might think that this means he’s an anti-train kind of guy. But you’d be quite wrong. Infact, he’s all for making more trains, right here in America!  … Just so long as they get exported to other countries. Here’s an excerpt from this video of John McCain campaigning in Pennsylvania:

“I was with Governor [Tom] Ridge yesterday, and we visited a General Electric plant in Erie that makes — guess what? — locomotives. That’s not viewed as, quote, high tech, is it? But you’d be amazed at the product, of the thousands of workers that are working there and building a locomotive that over half of their business is through exports, because they build the best locomotives in the world in Erie, Pennsylvania.”

For one thing… locomotives? I know it’s a correct term technically, but doesn’t it give off the impression that he was surprised that these engines aren’t run on steam power or something? Maybe it never occurred to Mr. McCain that these high-tech locomotives, rather than being exported, could be put to use on our own railways. We could be making travel more accessible for Americans and saving energy with home-grown technology and workers.

It seems like John McCain has been trying to cast himself back as a moderate again, but it’s hard to take him seriously when his only transportation solution is to build more cars and more roads. All while countries such as the UK, Spain, and China are preparing for a more economically sound, environmentally friendly, and energy efficient future with passenger rail.

A bit hat tip to our friends at Streetsblog for this scoop.

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, , ,

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