Listening to the President on Transportation

Over the last few weeks, President Obama has made a few different
statements that have gotten the attention of urbanists and sustainable
transportation advocates. Could it be? Does this guy really get it? And
if so, what is he going to do about it?

Deron Lovaas of NRDC Switchboard
has done a great job of connecting the dots on Obama’s comments, and he
likes what he hears — especially in the remarks the president made in
an interview with reporters aboard Air Force One last week, which were
reported yesterday on Transportation for America‘s blog:

These
words point in a new direction for transportation policy, one that
bodes well for energy security and climatic stability. We stand ready
to work with the President to flesh out the vision, and hope it will
include bold proposals like the National Association of Railroad Passenger’s map of new intercity rail lines,
construction of which would double the nation’s passenger rail capacity
and put the mileage almost on par with our world-class 47,000-mile
Interstate Highway System.

Are you feeling the optimism?

217604383_e4995666f1_m.jpgPhoto by Gilliamhome via Flickr.

Apparently you’d better be, if you want to keep your job at Amtrak. Seattle Transit Blog
passes along the news (from Trains Newswire) that the new Amtrak CEO,
Joseph Boardman, isn’t pleased with the fatalistic attitude he’s found
among the rail service’s employees: 

Boardman
said in an interview that shortly after leaving the top spot at the
Federal Railroad Administration last Thanksgiving to take over Amtrak,
he discovered that the passenger rail system is in worse shape than he
thought, and that some people in Amtrak headquarters in Washington are,
in effect, burnout cases. He would not be specific about numbers,
saying he has still made no final decisions about how many people will
have to leave because they cannot make the transition from survival to
growth.

"There are a whole host of people here who don’t
know whether to believe," he said. "People are going to have to get on
the train. We will make some judgments very soon."

While you’re waiting for Amtrak to enter the 21st century, reports Trains for America,
you ought to get yourself a ticket on the Acela. Seats on the
high-speed service are being discounted due to a drop in business
travel.

  • Honestly, given the experiences I’ve had with lower level Amtrak employees, I think it would be absolutely great if they’d fire every single one of them, and start over. Here’s an example: http://is.gd/f69z (to their credit, Amtrak did respond to my complaint, and said they would refer it to the manager in charge. No accountability on that though.)

  • FYI: California HSR will be applying for $2 Billion of the federal stimulus HSR funds to use in building grade separation and train maintanence facilities. They say they can use all that money before 2012!

    http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/images/chsr/20090218104021_CHST%20Statement%20021709.pdf

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