Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Amtrak bill opens door for bikes on trains

Via New York’s Streetsblog comes the observation that Amtrak’s new reauthorization bill allows its federal budget to be spent on making trains accessible for bicycles. From Streetsblog writer Ben Fried:

Queens Congressman Anthony Weiner got the language into the bill after prompting from Transportation Alternatives. President Bush has not yet signed it into law, but according to the Times, the White House has signaled that he will.

“In the past, Amtrak has claimed that because the funding bill did not explicitly say that the money may be spent on bikes that they couldn’t make trains bike-accessible,” says T.A.’s Noah Budnick. “Now it should be clear to the most bureaucratic bureaucrat: Federal money for Amtrak can be spent on bike-accessibility.”

The bill does not mandate bike-accessibility, so riders will have to contact Amtrak to put it on its agenda.

This makes perfect sense when you thinking about Amtrak and intercity rail’s role in a cleaner environment. If someone can bike (possibly with the help of public transit) to the train station in New York, it makes sense that they should be able to take their bike with them and use it to get to their final destination when they arrive in Washington DC. Plus, wouldn’t some of those stops on the long distance routes be a great place to have a bike to explore with?

Filed under: Amtrak, ,

Transportation is more than just moving people

This Sunday’s New York Times op-ed page was all about transit. One article that particularly caught my attention was a piece by Jeffrey Zupan about making transportation more appealing for riders. In the process he mentions the infamous Penn Station debacle, and suggests that centers of transportation should be places that citizens can take pride in.

And there are things that can be built to make us proud, like at Pennsylvania Station, the busiest intercity and commuter rail station in the nation, which, unlike the magnificent Grand Central Terminal, has not seen an awestruck tourist since the original station was torn down almost 50 years ago. A new Moynihan Station on Eighth Avenue would be a gateway that would attract rather than repel visitors and business travelers.

As our transit system improves, we could devote public space now consumed by moving and storing cars to uses like walking and biking. Our transit stations should be magnets for intelligent and environmentally sensitive land-use planning.

Unfortunately, this “civic pride” aspect of transportation planning has been neglected for years. For every Grand Central Terminal left in country, there’s a Penn Station. For every neighborhood transit station, there’s one that’s stuck in the median of a humoungous interstate. In the same vein, there’s a reason people dislike the dehumanizing experience they have to go through at the airport. This isn’t a “rail romance” blog, but as we look towards a less fuel-dependent future, we need to consider transportation’s effect on the community and indeed the traveler himself. Failing to do so fifty years ago was part of what brought us into this mess in the first place.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, , ,

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