Friday, February 27, 2009

President Obama would like to be known as the high-speed rail president

NVDL: If Obama achieves only one thing, and that thing is the deployment of high speed rail (or high quality rail in general) he will have done Americans a great service, and one sorely needed at the time. This is good news. The answer isn't more cars, or electric cars - it's better public transport and more railways to transport people and goods over long distance rather than individual cars and trucks, or worse, planes.
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The whining about who got what in the $787 billion economic stimulus bill is well underway, but you won't hear many complaints from high-speed rail advocates. They walked away with $8 billion.

That's an unprecedented sum considering the crumbs Amtrak has collected during the past 20 years, and rail boosters are gleefully predicting the money will lead to rail investment in almost every region of the country. Opponents of the funding, who at this point can do little but complain, say it's one large pig in a bill filled with pork, and will do little to help the economy, but that overlooks the fact it will, in the short-term, put people to work improving existing track and infrastructure.


The allocation makes good on Obama's campaign promise to show rail a little love, something Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood echoed when he said, "I think President Obama would like to be known as the high-speed rail president, and I think he can be."

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