The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
Destination:Freedom

A Weekly North American Transportation Update

For transportation advocates and professionals, journalists,
and elected or appointed officials at all levels of government

Publisher: James P. RePass      E-Zine Editor: Molly McKay
Foreign Editor: David Beale      Webmaster: Dennis Kirkpatrick
 

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June 1, 2010
Vol. 11 No. 23

Copyright © 2010
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 11th Newsletter Year

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IN THIS EDITION...   In This Edition...

  News Items…
Regional Rail Advocates Push For Enhanced Moynihan Station
  Commuter Lines…
DC Council Votes To Strip Funds For Streetcars
  Political Lines…
Emergency Transit Funding Bill Introduced
FRA Outreach Continues Toward National Rail Plan
  Health And Transportation…
Michelle Obama Launches Campaign To Get Kids Moving
  Going Intermodal…
‘Bike Coach’ Service Starts On MBTA Line
 
  Environmental Lines…
Sierra Club Calls For Volunteers To Join
   The Move America Off Oil Campaign
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Editorials…
A Tall Order For The FRA
The Oil Barons Continue Their Anti-Rail Quest
  Publication Notes …


NEWS OF THE WEEK... News Items...

Regional Rail Advocates Push
For Enhanced Moynihan Station

By David Peter Alan

Rail advocates in New York and New Jersey are stepping up their campaign for an improved Moynihan Station that will form a regional rail hub complex with the existing Penn Station. The Moynihan plan will convert part of the Farley Post Office Building west of Eighth Avenue in Manhattan into the western portion of an enlarged train station.

Civic groups such as the Municipal Art Society of New York support the plan as part of development that will improve the livability of the neighborhood. As part of that effort, the Society led a walking tour two weeks ago to celebrate National Train Day (see D:F from May 10th).

Phase I of the plan, which is supported by Transportation Improvement Grant for Economic Recovery (TIGER) funds, provides for platforms and walkways at track levels, along with improved vertical access to the tracks. Phase II calls for the creation of a large station, with a “train room” that will recall the old Penn Station (demolished in the 1960s), where arrivals were celebrated.

Advocates for the riders in the region favor the Moynihan plan in principle, but the Lackawanna Coalition has taken the lead in calling for changes in the current plan, in order to serve the needs of riders more effectively. In a statement delivered at a hearing on the subject on April 28th, the Coalition said:

The purpose of the Moynihan Project should not be just to build a great train station, but also a station that will connect all of us by rail. It should connect New York with New Jersey, the suburbs with the City and local rail with Amtrak. Moynihan is an opportunity for New York and New Jersey to work together, along with Amtrak, to build a train station truly worthy of the great City of New York.

The Coalition went on to say that the current Phase I plan does not meet that standard. The organization, which represents riders on the Morris & Essex and Montclair-Boonton lines of New Jersey Transit and their communities, called for the platforms serving Tracks 1 through 4 to be lengthened to 1020 feet, so that any train could use any platform at the expanded station. The Coalition also called for extension of the West End Concourse, a walkway above track level, to be extended to connect all platforms for easy transfer between trains.

In addition, the Coalition statement called for the construction of two new tracks from New Jersey, which would connect into the enhanced station complex. New Jersey Transit (NJT) plans to terminate its new tracks in a deep-cavern terminal, 175 feet (20 stories) below 34th Street. Rider advocates in the region strongly oppose that plan. Amtrak has proposed its own “780 Plan” to bring new tracks under the Hudson River and into the Penn Station area. That plan, apparently proposed in response to NJT’s plan, is named after the block that would be affected most, as listed on the New York City zoning map.

According to the advocates, an improved Moynihan/Penn Station would solve many of the capacity constraints that are expected to hinder Amtrak and NJT in the coming years. Joseph M. Clift, former Director of Planning for the Long Island Rail Road, believes that moving Amtrak’s operations into the new Moynihan part of the station (west of eighth Avenue) would create an appropriate terminal for the purpose, while releasing space for improved passenger flow in the existing Penn Station.

He cautioned that, “if they {the planners and builders of the Moynihan Project] don’t maximize the benefits of Phase I, they take away from that goal.”

Capacity is a vital issue, because NJT and Amtrak both plan to expand their operations during the next twenty years. Advocates call for eventual extension of service through Moynihan/Penn Station to the East Side, but trains must be accommodated until then. Clift and other rider advocates believe that, if any train can use any track, and pedestrian flow can be improved enough to allow easy transfers, more trains can use the station at congested peak commuting hours, so there will be no need to build a separate terminal for either Amtrak or NJT.

The Regional Rail Working Group, an alliance of rail advocacy organizations in the area, has pushed for an enhanced Penn Station to act as a hub for all rail carriers for many years. The Group’s Chair, George Haikalis, envisions a station that will include Amtrak, NJT, the LIRR and some future Metro-North services. The Lackawanna Coalition is a member of RRWG. So are the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP) and the Empire State Passengers’ Association (ESPA). Haikalis notes that those two organizations also support improved connectivity in the region for rail riders from their states, and hopes that all of the advocacy organizations will reach a consensus about how to improve the Moynihan/Penn Station complex.

Then the task will be to convince planners and funding organizations that a train station that will provide both a place to “celebrate arrivals” and convenient connections for all rail riders will be worth the investment. Clift has already made the pitch in New Jersey. “New York is spending money on this project,” he said, “New Jersey can take advantage of that for its own riders.”

David Peter Alan is Chair of the Lackawanna Coalition. Comments on the proposal will be accepted until May 28th.


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COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...  

DC Council Votes To Strip Funds
For Streetcars

Washington Post On The Internet
Story By Monica Norton

WASHINGTON, DC, MAY 26--Plans to bring streetcar service back to the Capital City were dealt a stunning blow last week when the D.C. Council approved stripping the funds that had been designated for the service in an effort to close a $550 million budget gap.

The council voted to take $49 million for street car system and distribute it among other projects.

Gabe Klein, director of the District Department of Transportation, was lobbying furiously to save the funds from being redistributed.

“It will essentially kill the program,” he said. “If they kill it, basically, it goes on ice.”

The District has already put down the first miles of track for the planned 37-mile streetcar network, estimated to cost $1.5 billion to complete.

Pro-street car activists are blaming Sarah Campbell, capital budget director for the council, who is also a member of the Committee of 100 on the Federal City. The group has been opposed to the street car plan, particularly raising overhead wires in historically protected areas of the city. (Editor’s note: There were wires for the streetcar in the “historic” districts a hundred years ago.)

Campbell claimed it was strictly a matter of funding; that she is not opposed to overhead wires. The changes, she said, do not eliminate the program but delay it.


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POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

Emergency Transit Funding Bill Introduced

From A Report By Transportation For America On The Internet

A new bill that would bring relief to cash-strapped transit systems across the nation was introduced in the Senate last week.

The Public Transportation Preservation Act would provide $2 billion in emergency assistance for operating expenses necessary to restore a major reduction in transit service and to hold off future fare increases due to decreased state or local funding that occurred on or after January 1, 2009.

Specifically, it will:

…authorize $2 billion for transit agencies nationwide to help close funding gaps in operating costs.  Transit agencies can use these funds to reduce fare increases and restore services that were cut after January 2009 or to prevent future service cuts or fare increases through September 2011.  Agencies that have not increased rates or cut services and do not plan to do so may use the funds for infrastructure improvements.

It couldn’t come at a better time. Last year, Americans took more than 10.7 billion trips on transit, the highest level in over 50 years. Public transportation use has increased at nearly triple the growth rate of the US population.

Director of Transportation for America, James Corless, released the following statement supporting the act:

“With demand for public transportation service at its highest level in over 50 years, Congress must act to protect Americans who rely on transit from service cuts and fare hikes that threaten their ability to reach jobs and daily necessities. This act will help to preserve an economically essential service with a one-time, emergency infusion that will help to save jobs and access to jobs.

“Senators Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Sherrod Brown of Ohio are to be commended for coming to the rescue of public transportation riders across the nation. The dire situation facing transit systems across the country – as they are forced to lay off workers, raise fares and cut service – highlights the critical need for Congress to pass the transportation authorization bill this year that would address America’s need for greater transportation options.”

Please thank these Senators for their commitment to support transit agencies and urge your own Senators to support this crucial bill.


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FRA Outreach Continues Toward
National Rail Plan

By David Peter Alan

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) continued its outreach to the rail community last week in New York City. The outreach initiative is part of the FRA’s ongoing discussions concerning a National Rail Plan, which the agency is required to present under Section 307 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA). The New York meeting was in the middle of the conference schedule; previous meetings were held in Atlanta and Kansas city and later conferences are scheduled for Salt Lake City and Portland, Oregon.

In the bulletin announcing the conferences, FRA Administrator Joseph C. Szabo said: “These are exciting times in the railroad community as we build awareness and focus on how rail, passenger and freight, contributes to the nation’s transportation system and economy.” The FRA pursued a similar outreach effort one year ago, when it introduced the process for selecting rail corridors to receive grants under the PRIIA Act.

Szabo’s enthusiasm was seconded at the session by Deputy Administrator Karen Rae, who said that the nation is experiencing “a time when rail is seeing a resurgence (that) it has not seen in a generation.” She went on to promote the benefits of rail in several areas: economic competitiveness, energy efficiency, environmental protection, safety and “supporting livable communities” with passenger and freight service. Other FRA presenters also extolled the benefits of rail; while the audience, consisting entirely of various stakeholders, agreed.

Participants filled out three questionnaires, on the subjects of strategies to secure future rail improvements, suggestions for investment in passenger and freight rail, and recommendations for the mix of funding and decision-making (Federal, state, local or private investment) for rail projects. There were also two “breakout” sessions, where participants discussed strategies and funding with the other attendees at their tables and reported their findings.

The issue of funding for rail operations and capital projects dominated the conference. Arthur S. Guzzetti, Vice-President for Policy at the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) said that the public is now willing to pay for transit growth and criticized current Federal policy of funding 80% of the cost of highway projects, while rail projects receive a lesser amount. “The Federal government needs to be the catalyst here” he said. Guzzetti also expressed concern about the “private” investors in public-private partnerships: “The private partners shouldn’t turn around and drive the hardest bargain they can about a passenger project” after receiving capital funding for the required infrastructure improvement. Other participants went further, calling for a requirement that any railroad which is upgraded through an infusion of Federal funds be required to operate a viable passenger service on that line. D:F publisher James P. RePass said that public ownership of lines improved with public funds should not be out of the question, and also called for a restructuring of Congressional committees on transportation to be organized by region, rather than by transportation mode.

Other attendees suggested possible funding mechanisms in a “shout out” session: tax-incentive financing, a tax on freight shipping that would be dedicated to infrastructure improvements or for passenger operations, tax breaks for freight railroads that allowed (or even operated) passenger trains on their lines, and several other ideas. Steve Lanset of the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club suggested that less money be spent on the military, so more could be spent on education and the nation’s rail system.

There were about 100 attendees, who came from various sectors of the rail scene: Class I and short-line railroads, transit agencies, planners, contracting firms (the largest group represented), rail labor, environmentalists, and rider advocates from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maine. Understandably, representatives of the different constituencies expressed their concerns as expected. Freight railroads were concerned about capacity constraints that allowing passenger trains could exacerbate. Arthur Guzzetti of APTA stressed the importance of connections between intercity trains and local transit. D:F editor Molly McKay, representing the Connecticut chapter of the Sierra Club, mentioned the environmental benefits of rail over bus ways for local transit; currently at issue in her home state of Connecticut.

There were two issues on which all participants appeared to agree. One was the convenience of the meeting location, which was one block from Penn Station. Deputy Administrator Rae said she was glad to be able to take the train to this conference, rather than use an airline. Another participant suggested at the shout-out session that the Federal gasoline tax [actually a highway user fee] should be increased by fifty cents per gallon and the proceeds used for rail. Everyone broke into applause.

David Peter Alan attended the conference in his capacity as Chair of the Lackawanna Coalition.


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HEALTH AND TRANSPORTATION... Health And Transportation...  

Michelle Obama Launches Campaign To Get Kids Moving

The First Lady’s “Let’s Move” Report Says
Walking And Biking Key To Healthier Children

From A White House Report By Sean Barry


Photo: Reuters

The First Lady talks to children on healthy living
When a White House Task Force was recently created to address the problem of childhood obesity, Michelle Obama spearheaded the report on Increasing Physical Activity, an issue directly related to transportation and our over-dependence on the automobile. The four other components are: Early Childhood; Empowering Parents and Caregivers; Healthy Food in Schools; and Access to Healthy, Affordable Food.

First Lady Obama’s report emphasizes the importance of designing the built environment so that it is a safe and pleasant experience to walk and bicycle. Noting the important link between transportation options and health, Transportation for America encouraged Michelle Obama to include the built environment in the upcoming surface transportation bill.

How communities are designed and function can promote – or inhibit – physical activity for children and adults. Children’s ability to be physically active in their community depends not only on design, with good sidewalks and attractive buffers from traffic such as trees and green space, but also on reasonable distances between destinations.

Several studies have already attributed obesity and health problems to aspects of our current built environment, such as sprawling subdivisions and lack of places to walk. It makes intuitive sense. When we live further and further from where we work, shop, go to school, and play, it makes us all the more reliant on automobiles, especially in the absence of viable alternatives. In urban areas, one-fifth of all automobile trips are one mile or less. These distances could easily be walked or biked with the proper infrastructure in place.

Improving pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure is one place the task force suggests we start, as is the continuation and expansion of the Safe Routes to Schools program, currently funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation.

A key benchmark in the built environment section is: increase by 50 percent by 2015 the percentage of children between the ages of 5 and 18 who walk or bike to school. That’s a goal everyone can support and one Congress should remember as the new surface transportation bill progresses.

The First Lady’s recommendations embrace an exciting new way of linking health to the built environment in the form of Health Impact Assessments (HIAs). Many communities are using these criteria which evaluates whether a new project helps or hinders public health.


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GOINGINTER MODAL... Going Intermodal...  

‘Bike Coach’ Service Starts On MBTA Line

Gloucester Times
By Jonathan L’Ecuyer Staff Writer

MBTA Bike Coach

Photo: NCI FIle / MBTA

A bike rider places his alternate transportation in one of the bike racks in the redesigned coach.
“Cyclists looking to pedal their way to Cape Ann beaches but want to avoid the traffic backups and fuel and parking costs that accompany a drive to the shoreline may instead consider taking commuter rail this summer,” writes Times staffer L’Ecuyer.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company (MBCR) have announced they will provide weekend “Bike Coach” service again this summer on the Newburyport/Rockport line.

Last year, this popular “bike-to-the-beach” service transported over 600 bikes on the Gloucester branch on weekends between June 1 and Sept. 30, 2009. Beachgoers and outdoor enthusiasts who regularly travel to beaches in Gloucester and Rockport will be able to transport their bikes on a specially equipped bike coach.

Those heading for the city for a change of scenery can hop the coach to bike in Boston. A favorite spot among cyclists is along the Charles River.

“The MBTA is pleased to offer cyclists a convenient, comfortable way to travel to North Shore beaches along with their bicycles,” said MBTA General Manager Richard Davey in a prepared statement.

The bike coach service has already begun and will continue through Columbus Day weekend. Each coach can accommodate up to 39 riders and 42 seated passengers.

There is no additional fee to bring a bike onboard under the program.

“The bike coach is another example of MBCR’s commitment to providing rail service that meets our customers’ needs,” said Donald Saunders, MBCR’s interim general manager.

Jonathan L’Ecuyer can be reached at 978-283-7000 x 3451 or jlecuyer@gloucestertimes.com.

Trains offering ‘Bike-to-the-Beach’ service:

Outbound From Boston (Saturday and Sunday)

Train 1105 (Saturday service); 2105 (Sunday service). Departing time — 10:15 a.m.
Train 1113 (Saturday service); 2113 (Sunday service). Departing time — 2:15 p.m.

Inbound From Rockport

Train 1112 (Saturday service); 2112 (Sunday service). Departing time — Noon
Train 1120 (Saturday service); 2120 (Sunday service). Departing time — 5:10 p.m.


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ENVIRONMENTAL LINES... Environmental Lines...  

Sierra Club Calls For Volunteers To Join
The Move America Off Oil Campaign

From Sierra Club Website

Volunteer Leaders,

For a full month now, a British Petroleum well has gushed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. And for a full month now, the Sierra Club has been working to hold that corporation accountable for the human and environmental tragedy that continues to poison our waters and now is reaching our fragile wetlands and shores. You have all been a part of the amazing job the Sierra Club has done to help keep cameras and the public focused on this disaster. Now let’s move on to the next stage of this historic campaign.

We have asked President Obama to deliver a plan to get us off oil in 20 years. Now it’s our job to provide him with the motivation—and political capital—to really do it.  For at least another month, this will remain the organization’s top priority.

We have assembled a rapid response team to launch a robust second wave of communications activities around this oil disaster. Their charge is help the Sierra Club channel the public outrage about the BP catastrophe into a collective determination to move America quickly off oil. We will continue to take actions to address the Gulf disaster directly.  And we will not cease to demand that the government stop all offshore drilling immediately and hold BP fully accountable for the mess its recklessness has caused. It is most important that we use these actions to make sure our oceans are never fouled again. We will do this by inspiring President Obama to seize this rare moment of intense national focus to announce a plan to get America off of oil within 20 years.

We hope you will all be a part of the drumbeat of activity — mobilize to engage grasstops, conduct editorial board visits, hold house parties and plan media visibility events to share the message, “It’s time: President Obama, move our nation off of oil.”  To complement your efforts, we’ll launch a major advertising campaign, we’ll send Executive Director Michael Brune and Sierra Club President Robin Mann on TV and radio tours, persuade VIPs to write op-eds and we’ll shoot videos with celebrities calling on the President to take the lead, all while working to bring in 45,000 new activists on our email list.

We’ll consider our mission a success if, by July 4, we have persuaded a critical mass of thoughtful leaders and other notables to make public statements, heard by a large national audience (exact metrics to be determined), in which they encourage the president to provide visionary leadership that weans the nation from oil in two decades.

Meanwhile, we will continue our campaigns of stopping offshore drilling and engendering a clean energy future as the entire Club embraces this moment of bold, visionary action. In 1960, we didn’t know how we were going to get to the moon – but we gathered the best minds of that generation to reach that goal. This moment needs to be our defining moment in launching an oil-free future.

We have an unprecedented opportunity right now to dramatically change the national dialogue on energy. This isn’t just about oil. If we succeed, we will bolster all of the other work we are doing to shift to a new, clean energy economy and a healthier environment. 

Thanks for all you do. Please feel free to post comments or questions on the Sierra Club web site. Go to Clubhouse Comment Board or join the “Move America Off Oil in 20 Years Project” on the Activist Network.

Dave Scott
Vice President for Conservation, Sierra Club

Sarah Hodgdon
Conservation Director, Sierra Club


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week (*)
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe (BNI)

**

**

Canadian National (CNI)57.3756.38
Canadian Pacific (CP) 55.0353.01
CSX (CSX)52.2551.09
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)35.9934.98
Kansas City Southern (KSU)38.1734.88
Norfolk Southern (NSC)56.4654.81
Providence & Worcester(PWX)11.7212.95
Union Pacific (UNP)71.4369.75


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EDITORIALS... Editorials...  

A Tall Order For The FRA

The Federal Railroad Administration’s on-going road show, conducting National Rail Plan Regional Workshops all over the United States, hit New York City this week. It is a breath of fresh air, from an agency whose gifted staff makes up in hard work anything that might be missing due to sleep deprivation. These people are serving their Secretary, and their President, well.

Having said that, we think the FRA has been given a nearly impossible task: to draft and refine, take feedback from stakeholders of all ranks and kinds, and then refine again, a National Rail Plan for America.

The New York City session was led by Deputy Administrator Karen Rae, who once again demonstrated via her ready wit and easy-going wisdom that Barack Obama knows how to pick good people, and that the FRA has quite a few of them.

But creating a National Rail Plan is not and cannot be a job for one agency, or even one department, of the Federal Government. There are items that must be addressed by the National Rail Plan that are way beyond the pay grade of the FRA or even the US DOT, and yet if we fail to address them, any prescriptive plan for the future will likewise fail. That is because the issues that need to be addressed are not just how fast trains should go, or where they should go, or who should pay for them --- all of those are important questions, and are indeed being addressed. But while necessary, they are not sufficient.

The issues which must be addressed, which go well beyond what the FRA can do alone, are structural; they involve both the President and the leadership of the Congress, and they go in a very fundamental way to the heart of the matter, which is how our nation’s decision-making process regarding large issues must itself be changed, in order to have any hope of solving the issue at hand -- our backward and costly transportation system.

The matter isn’t just about funding and building intercity rail, or passenger vs. freight, or other nuts-and-bolts affairs. It is about building an integrated, truly intermodal transportation system --- rail, bike path, highway, air, riverine, coastal --- that can take a person, or a package, from point A to point B as seamlessly, as quickly, and as inexpensively as possible.

To do that, while we do indeed have to have a National Rail Plan, we also have to integrate that plan into all of the other transportation systems, and to do that we have to address a basic fundamental issue: the Congress as it is presently structured cannot possibly respond to ANY plan, no matter how well thought out, and the Executive Branch of the Federal Government is likewise not ready for anything that even looks like systems integration – which is at the core of the problem.

Right now, the Congress’ decision-making apparatus is spread among committee and subcommittees organized around various transportation modes. For example, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, chaired by the estimable Jim Oberstar (D-MN), is comprised of six subcommittees: on Aviation; on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management; on Highways and Transit; on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials; and on Water Resources and Environment.

And that is just the authorizing committee. The House Appropriations Committee --- which actually appropriates and turns over to the executive branch (a portion of, usually) the funds authorized, is likewise divided, when it comes to transportation, among the various modes.

The Senate is even more hodgepodge, with rail under the Commerce Committee but Urban Transit under the Banking Committee. Why? Devolution/Tradition.

What Congress needs to do, and which no individual agency could ever propose, is that Congress reform itself, along regional instead of modal lines at least when it comes to transportation. We don’t need a Subcommittee on Railroads. We need Subcommittees on Southeastern Transportation, and Northeastern Transportation, and Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest, and West Coast, and so on.

And we need to fund transportation in a new way: the Highway Trust Fund, based on a per-gallon gas tax, must become a Transportation Trust Fund, but it cannot only be funded by what will be, if our national energy policy is a success, a declining revenue stream. It needs a fresh source of funding.

We think that should come from a National Value Capture Allocation System wherein, starting now, a portion of the growth in all tax revenues of any kind automatically goes to the building and operation of transportation systems within that geographical area. The biggest percentage of that allocation should be for tax revenues generated by economic activity within one mile of the railroad line/highway system/airport core corridor; a lower percentage for revenues of all kinds generated 1-10 miles out, and a final, still smaller allocation for revenues generated 10-100 miles from the corridor’s core. This in a rough way allows those who benefit the most from good, nearby transportation systems to help shoulder more of the cost.

This is not [necessarily] a new tax, but it is a way of sequestering a priori a portion of new revenues from existing tax mechanisms to transportation spending only, so that once we build a new highway bridge, or rail line, or airport runway, we can afford to maintain it before it drops into the Mississippi, goes into a state of disrepair, etc., etc., which is the way we fund transportation now, and which is why we are in a state of decline.

Finally, it’s not just the Congress: the Executive Branch must use its bully pulpit not only to help restructure the way Congress makes decisions and allocates money, but to lead the nation in the setting of national priorities for transportation, and then proposing legislation that helps enact that vision.

For example, any airport with more than 100,000 boardings (or pick a number) a year MUST have a railroad station and line connected to the [forthcoming] national high speed system; or, any city pair of cities in 1) excess of 50,000 people and 2) between 100-600 miles apart MUST be connected by High Speed Rail, and therefore the Congress members representing those cities have a claim on the funding derived from the Transportation Tax; and so on. We need to think well outside the proverbial box, and that process needs to begin now.

In the meantime, the FRA is conducting an exercise in an intelligent, fair, and transparent way that is a model for how the Federal Government should be run. Let’s make sure that when we have a National Transportation Plan ready to be implemented, we have Congressional and Executive Branch structures that are capable of doing so. Right now, they are set up to tackle the problems of the 19th century (maybe) but certainly not those of the 21st. If we fail to address that – and Congress and the President need to pay attention to new ideas, like the ones in this editorial, and lead --- or else we will have yet another 100-feet of shelf space holding yet another $100 million worth of paper studies, and that’s all.

A Tall Order? So what? This is America, and we need to act accordingly.

A wonderful Memorial Day to all, and our thanks to all those who have served our country in the Armed Forces, or who are in harm’s way now in defense of our Freedom. Come home, alive.


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The Oil Barons Continue
Their Anti-Rail Quest

You might think that the current environmental nightmare in the Gulf of Mexico brought on by the combination of hubris and stupidity which seems to mark large multi-national oil corporations would give the oil barons a little pause in their anti-environment lobbying efforts. You would be wrong.

The oil companies, at the very same time their bet-the-environment cost-cutting strategy for oil exploration and production operation is washing up in the tidal marshlands of Louisiana in a relentless, heart-sickening denouement to the Deep Horizon tragedy, are in Washington working the halls of Congress to thwart any part of the proposed national energy policy legislation that might encourage people to drive less, and use public transport or intercity/commuter rail more [see story this issue of D:F].

The last time we got an energy policy was a decade ago when Dick Cheney invited the oil industry to DC, closed the door to his Vice Presidential office, and asked the oil barons, “Well boys, what can we do for you today?”

We are today enjoying the results of that policy, and it is there for all to see; the plume in the Gulf of Mexico is even visible from space.

Never again.

Write your Congressman and your Senator. Write the President. Tell them to keep the oil companies’ greasy hands off our country’s future, and stop blocking the way to a clean and safe environment where we can all breathe the air, or drink the water, or enjoy the bounty of the land and sea, without wondering how many species and those species’ habitats may have been destroyed today.


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2010 National Corridors Initiative, Inc. as a compilation work and original content. Permission is granted to reproduce content provided acknowledgements to NCI are given. Return links to the NCI web site are encouraged and appreciated. Color Name Courtesy of Doug Alexander. Content reproduced by NCI remain the copyrights of the original publishers.

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