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the government deserves more credit

By enelson
Monday, February 25th, 2008 at 6:55 pm in Amtrak, Caltrans, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), Funding, rail, Transit vs. driving.

OK, so I was hasty after all. Seems that my last post did not give enough credit to the Bush Administration’s attempts to help improve intercity passenger rail. I suspect its efforts have more to do with Transportation Secretary Mary Peters’ pragmatic approach to funding, i.e., we can do more with less if we channel more into public transportation.

Today I got another note from the Federal Rail Administration, which falls under USDoT’s umbrella:

I saw your blog entry.  I am glad my message was of use to you.  Your main point seems to be that $30 million is not enough.  We agree.  As I wrote in my email cover message to you, the Bush Administration had requested $100 million for this grant program for the current FY08 budget, but Congress cut that back to only $30 million.  In his proposed budget for FY2009, the President has again asked for $100 million for this grant program.

Yes, $100 million would have been better than $30 million, but the state’s own efforts of late have far eclipsed that. As Gene Skoropowski of the Capitol Corridor said, however, getting the intercity program started was a big step in the right direction.

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4 Responses to “the government deserves more credit”

  1. bikerider Says:

    If the FRA really wanted to help, they would eliminate the crazy 1930’s regulations that force the Capital Corridor (and all other commuter rail agencies) to run such antiquated equipment. The ridiculous FRA buffing standards cost way more than $30 million per year in excess fuel costs.

  2. david vartanoff Says:

    $30 million, $100 million over the US? joke. Two weeks of the money flushed down the rathole in Iraq would build HSR. The B-2 which crashed cost $1.2 billion that’s almost the cost for the badly designed Central Subway.

  3. Guy Span Says:

    Love the typo in the original story talking about the brutal departure time from Sacramento. “Human time” when perhaps you and your editor might have meant “humane.” It passes the spell checker; let her rip.

    The $150 million for the corridor is in question, as the auditors counted the riders on Labor Day (a day everyone wants to travel) and when the connecting buses couldn’t cross the bridge. Based on an obvious for the world to see demolition attempt, our Terminator wants to put an end to this.

    Then there’s the $30 million, reportedly reduced from $100 million for intercity trains by that nasty congress. The key words are that this has been part of our President’s plan, implying that he is dying to help passenger trains.

    I suspect that if you look behind the curtain, the smoke and mirrors, you will find this money is designed to dismember Amtrak and replace it with a tiny pot of money that the states can decide what service they want. They may want service but there won’t be any cash to pay for it.

    One proposal to help Amtrak was to eliminate dining and sleeper service, bringing it back to the 1870’s, where like Greyhound you have meal stops (Harvey House days). My favorite was the suggestion that if states didn’t want to pay, the long distance train would lock its doors and simply blow the pigeons off the depot roof.

  4. Guy Span Says:


    Those buff standards were written in blood. Look at early train collision pictures and you can see the wooden passenger cars telescope on impact, killing most inside. As steel cars became available, wooden ones were outlawed.

    We can mix light rail with heavy rail as long as they don’t operate together. The San Diego Trolley shares it route with heavy freight, though freight runs at night when trolley is not operating.

    Even the steel cars have danger spots, such as the push pull cab car and all vestibules. Design engineers politely term vestibules as “crush zones” designed to collapse and absorb impacts.

    I wouldn’t want to be in a vestibule during an accident and I would dead in a goofy light rail vehicle if it collided with a 10,000 ton train.

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