Progress Comes With Small Steps.

New Locomotives
The Amtrak Cascades, which operate in the busy 310-mile long corridor from Vancouver, BC to Eugene, Oregon, by way of Seattle and Portland, have just taken possession of eight brand new Charger locomotives. These new beauties bring a lot to the table: they’re lighter and quieter than their predecessors, they accelerate faster and can run at higher speeds, and are all equipped with Positive Train Control devices. The PTC systems designed to automatically stop a train should it encounter a dangerous situation. The system won’t be up and running until some time nest year, But these new locomotives are ready to go as soon as it is. The locomotives are built by Siemens at their plant in Sacramento.
An Enlightened Governor
And there’s more interesting news from the enlightened Northwest: the governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, wants to actively pursue the idea of building an actual high-speed rail line connecting Seattle and Vancouver. I’ve made that run at least an half dozen times and it would be a huge improvement. Amtrak runs four roundtrips a day between the two cities—two by train and two by bus. The travel time now is almost four hours, although that includes a stop at the border for customs and immigration. A high speed train could cover the 150 miles in an hour, including a stop at the border for those formalities. John Horgan, British Columbia’s premier and Inslee’s counterpart, seems a bit less enthusiastic, but is in favor of continuing to study the possibilities.
Voters Want Public Transportation
And here’s an interesting and encouraging bit of news. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) went to the trouble of compiling a list of all the public transportation initiatives that appeared on ballots in 17 states on Election Day earlier this month. Mostly, these votes would involve either initiating or continuing taxes to fund some form of public transportation. In 15 of the 17 cases, the measures passed. The people willing to tax themselves to pay for transportation projects of one kind or another and which, it’s clear, would not be of direct benefit to all those in-favor votes. More details are available here.


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