The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.

James P. RePass - President & CEO
Phone:  617-269-5478

The Hon. John Robert Smith - Chairman

MA Office: 59 Gates Street, Boston, MA. 02127
CT Office, 8 Riverbend Drive, Mystic, CT, 06355
RI Office, 35 Terminal Road, Suite 210, Providence, RI. 02905

Fax (CT): 860-536-5482

January 28-29, 2008
St. Louis, Mo

The First Carmichael Conference
on Transportation

From the NARP Blog
and Dave Johnson

From the NARP Blog…


NCI Conference Explores Outreach to Presidential Candidates

Friday, February 01, 2008

I had the privilege of attending the The Carmichael Conference On The Future of American Transportation For North American Transportation Advocates and Leaders this past Monday and Tuesday in St. Louis.  The event, sponsored by the National Corridors Initiative, was named in honor of former FRA Administrator Gilbert Carmichael, who continues to this day to advocate for a strong, balanced transportation system that includes intercity passenger rail.

The main objective of the meeting was to “develop a unified Transportation Advocates’ Statement on the Future of American Transportation for presentation to all of the Candidates for the Presidency of the United States.” I’ll share that with you as soon as it is finalized.  You’ll see that NARP was one of the sponsors of the conference and advocates’ statement.

One of the consistent themes of speakers and participants--including myself--was that the Presidential candidates have not given any attention to transportation in their campaigns.  The group came to consensus that this was a) not a partisan issue as neither party has spoken out and b) there are two main reasons why.

First, transportation is neither an emotional nor a “sexy” issue.  It doesn’t grab headlines.  If anything, Americans have become complacent with the problems we have and while they may complain, they just accept it “cause that’s the way it is.”

Second, fixing the transportation mess we have will take money.  A lot of money.  It will almost certainly require raising the gas tax.  How many politicians do you know that have run on a platform of raising taxes and had a successful campaign?  If anything, the candidates have to compete to see who can go the lowest on tax cut promises.  That doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems to solve.  But, the bottom line is that it is incredibly difficult to drum up support for something that’s going to cost a lot of money in the context of a political campaign.

NARP has reached out to the Presidential candidates and, along the lines of my discussion above, have received no response.  But rest assured we will keep putting the message out there.  It’s quite possible that issues will become more focused and refined as the field shrinks to two viable candidates in each party and in the near future to one.

-- Dave Johnson

As Promised:
Transportation Advocates Statement to the Candidates

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Following up my post from yesterday, here is the statement to the Presidential candidates that I referencedŠ -- DRJ

To the Candidates for President and the Party Platform Committees, we submit:

The St. Louis Statement
on the Crisis in American Transportation
At The Carmichael Conference *

The silence of those now running for the office of President on the growing crisis in our nation’s transportation infrastructure is deafening. We have all heard about the crisis in the economy, and changes in the earth’s climate brought on by global warming, but we have heard nothing about one key element that underlies both of those issues: the movement of goods and people, our very freedom of mobility. Yet, few national issues offer a greater opportunity for imaginative change.

We speak to those candidates now, today. We are from both political parties, and from no political party. We are from New England, and California, and Louisiana, and Illinois, and places in between, gathered this day in St. Louis for the inaugural Carmichael Conference* on the Future of American Transportation, to advocate for the renewal of that infrastructure. We respectfully ask each one of you:

€ Do you understand that transportation must be treated as a system, not merely a collection of competing modes, when setting and executing policy € How do you propose to restore our transportation system to health? € What are you going to do, specifically, to obtain the funding needed to do that?

As both advocates and professional executives, as both elected and appointed officials from around this country, as American citizens, we call on you to engage this issue, and make it an integral part of your campaign. As former American Airlines CEO Robert Crandall said in his very powerful address to us: “It’s late in the game, and we are far past the time when our national leaders should have laid out, debated, and implemented an integrated, carefully thought-out and effective national plan for developing and deploying an optimized national transportation system.”

The American people need rational choices when it comes to transportation, and those choices must be adequately and intelligently funded and maintained to make it all work. In particular, an efficient transportation system and robust rail, air, coastal/riverine, port, and highway components will sharply reduce both our dependence on foreign oil, and the high price we pay for it. Highly fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly transportation modes, such as rail, should especially not be overlooked.

You are asking us to select you as the leader of our country. Very well: we ask you to lead. Seize this issue, and make it central to your campaign, as it is to every American’s life. Thus far it has been virtually ignored.  We ask that to change, starting now.

* Convened January 28-29, 2008, at St. Louis, by the National Corridors Initiative with the help and support of the Sierra Club, The National Association of Railroad Passengers, and the following organizations: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, American Public Transportation Association, American Road and Transportation Builders, Association of American Railroads, Association for Public Transportation, Bombardier Transit, Connex/Veolia Transportation, InTrans Incorporated: A New Direction in Transportation Advocacy, Midwest High Speed Rail Association, Providence & Worcester Railroad, The Surdna Foundation, Train/Riders NorthEast, Victoria Transportation Policy Institute, Virginians for High Speed Rail, and named in honor of former Federal Railroad Administrator Gilbert Carmichael, one of America’s leading transportation advocates who continues actively to champion transportation intermodalism.


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