Those of you who have followed this blog or visit often enough to get my political drift know that I am a strong believer in a comprehensive United States transportation policy that includes passenger rail. I'm going to link to two recent reports that are - or will be - interesting reading, because they both address how our "no policy" approach has put the US behind much of the rest of the world when it comes to transportation.
The [first report] is from a bipartisan organization called Building America's Future. Before you get into the report and read the statistics that should scare the pants off any user of transportation (freight or passenger), consider its source and understand that the chair-persons for this organization are on the liberal side. So take some of it with a grain of salt in that there may be a tendency to slant in the direction of higher subsidies for all modes, not just for high-speed rail and freight rail. In my opinion, the report is on the money in its criticism of how we handle transportation policy and where this will lead us in the not-too-distant future. Frankly, if we can't move goods and people around fast, in high volume, and in an energy-efficient manner, the United States will continue to fall behind other countries. Additionally, the solution, I think, is not just in subsidy or government money, but in general tax and business policies, and an easing of regulations, that will help private enterprise get this accomplished. Even though the report's slant may be liberal, mine is definitely conservative.
The [second report] hasn't really come out yet. The link is to an article on the Amercian Society of Civil Engineers site that describes the expected March 19 report in generalities. Nevertheless, the conclusion is the same: The United States needs a comprehensive transportation policy that includes all modes, and needs to spend a lot more money on infrastructure for all modes. Again, the slant is probably liberal, as one would expect from a highly commercialized academic society, but the need can be met by applying conservative political principles.
Bottom line: It would be an extremely bad idea to continue treating rail, and passenger rail in particular, as an anachronism or as a second cousin to so-called "modern" modes like air and highway. My opinion is that it would also be an extremely bad idea to demand that government fund all of the needed improvements, as liberal political influences would have it. It would also be an extremely bad idea for government to dump modes that it currently subsidizes - Amtrak, for example - with no backup plan, as conservatives would have it. Limit taxes on transportation modes and their profits, dump unnecessary regulation, and promote general business prosperity, and the rest of the plan will take care of itself. AS LONG AS WE HAVE A PLAN!
© 2013 - C. A. Turek - firstname.lastname@example.org