Monday, December 17, 2007

Parade Article: "A Better Way To Travel?"

A November Parade article title "A Better Way To Travel?" talks about rail travel and Amtrak in particular. Five quotes from the article I liked:

Many transportation experts insist that the best answer to transportation gridlock is efficient intercity rail travel. Trains use one-fifth less energy than cars or planes. They run in bad weather. They’re business-efficient and tourist-friendly.

“The transportation funding mechanism is skewed toward highway construction,” says James RePass, principal executive of the National Corridors Initiative, a transportation advocacy group. “The game is rigged against rail.”

In contrast, the rest of the industrialized world is investing heavily in its train systems. From border to border, Europe is wiring itself for high-speed rail. The result? Decreased emissions and increased productivity. Some predict the eventual obsolescence of air travel on the continent.

The current administration has been particularly unfriendly. Amtrak, which is federally funded, received just $1.3 billion last year—the same as 25 years ago. Compare that to the $40 billion allocated for highways and the $14 billion for airlines in 2006. For the 2008 fiscal year, the Bush Administration pro- posed just $800 million for the railroad—a $500 million cut from 2007. In 2005, the President proposed pulling the plug entirely on Amtrak’s subsidy.

“I’m amazed at the rancor about our numbers—they are so small,” says Alex Kummant, Amtrak’s CEO. “ It costs about $1.50 for every man, woman and child to sustain this network—one cup of coffee per person. Look at highway congestion, environmental issues, the capacity of airline travel. For city-to-city transportation, we need passenger rail.”


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