Sunday, September 21, 2008

Two Questions

Question One: Will there be any money left for Passenger Rail?

There is a need for a comprehensive United States transportation plan. We think this statement is unarguable. We also think that the only way such a plan can be implemented is through focused government subsidy for expanded Passenger Rail. This should move into the realm of public-private partnerships and finally, if successful, one day into the realm of pure private enterprise.

Right now, we are not moving in the direction of private enterprise. It wouldn't surprise us if there were a need - in a very short time - to nationalize the transportation system to keep it from melting down in the same way that AIG and the credit markets almost have, or almost did.

If we do that, the question comes as to how much money will be put into Passenger Rail. Or will the government just support new highways and airways and revamp air transport? In our opinion, we cannot do the latter without leaving our transportation systems vulnerable to attack. Only a balanced Passenger Rail component secures the system against such attack.

Question Two: Is Joe Biden pro rail just because he commutes on a train?

We think not. Biden has been critical of Amtrak, just as have many legislators, without offering a solution that demonstrates a comprehensive knowledge of the problem. We know lots of folks who bitch about the service but have no idea what it really takes to run a passenger train, let alone a railroad.

We do not see a presidential or vice-presidential candidate that can truly be called pro rail. Transportation won't become glamorous enough to catch the eye of the media, and hence of the voter, unless it is interrupted in the same way that failure of Fannie and Freddy would have interrupted the financial markets. (And please do not think we are advocating this. We are just saying.) It is a pity, but keep it in mind when you vote.

©2008 - C. A. Turek - mistertrains@gmail.com


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