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With a new administration in D.C., it's time to think outside of the box because passenger rail's survival just may depend on it

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tackling the Headlines 58

CAHSR gets treated like a yo-yo

Take: These recent moves are setbacks for the project, but the project will continue--just in a compressed amount of time.

Dallas-Houston HSR train could be running by 2020

Take: The idea that they could get this finished before the first leg of the California project is quite astonishing.

Rail fix on track for 2015 passenger service

Take #1: A parallel route to the current Vermonter should pave the way for the Montrealer's revival and the possibility of eventually having three or four frequencies between Springfield and St. Albans would really make the Knowledge Corridor live up to its name.

Take #2: This also comes with a bit of bad news: Amherst would be replaced by a bus. This is primarily due to the fact that the Central Corridor did not receive any TIGER funding earlier this year. It's also worth pointing out that the New London-Brattleboro corridor is still being negotiated between the CT DOT and the NECR while the MA DOT is conducting a feasibility study on the corridor. While it's possible for an NECR shuttle train between Amherst and Brattleboro to supersede the bus, who knows when the NECR would be able to start full service between Brattleboro and New London?

Take: Is this thing on? Okay, Florida DOT officials, this is yet another community that is expressing an interest in operating some type of passenger service. Governor Scott and ex-Governor Crist need to get this point: The DOT needs to stop dragging its feet and produce its own intercity rail system! 

The current DOT boss is waiting to see how successful the privately operated All Aboard Florida service is before committing to intrastate service. Instead of being completely reactive, Tallahassee needs to grow a spine before it has a mess on its hands--a series of disjointed or ill-timed commuter routes, spotty Amtrak service, and privately run FEC-AAF trains that skip small towns. 

I'm not saying that that Amtrak should operate this system. If anything, Amtrak should only operate the East Coast route between Jacksonville and Miami as the "local stops" alternative to All Aboard Florida's initial service and northern extension that will end up as "express services." Florida has been innovative before, and it should be innovative once again. Contact Richard Branson, Bombardier, and the AIPRO and let them bid for the other corridors (including the "suspended" leg of the Sunset Limited and the S-Line route Amtrak foolishly abandoned nine years ago).

Transit experts: Orange, Durham not ready for light rail

Take: These "experts" primarily focused on neighboring Wake County and only made a passing judgment on the other two counties. Durham and Orange Counties got their act together while Wake fell behind due to the Tea Party backlash of 2010. 

Advocating for better rail service

Take: Canada's clearly in worse shape than America. People here wonder what would happen if Amtrak only operated the Northeast Corridor and a few other routes. Via Rail Canada is the lab rat since it's primarily focusing on the Montreal-Toronto corridor. If residents along the affected portion of Via's recent cuts band together, then they could form a coalition so someone else can operate trains to their communities. Otherwise, the Wilner Plan would be more applicable (and appropriate) to Via Rail than Amtrak.

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