You Gotta ASK If You Gonna Get!
Later this month, members of the National Association of Railroad Passengers will be gathering in Washington for three days … one of which will be spent knocking on Congressional doors doing our best to promote the cause of passenger rail. It’s an interesting experience.
And a sobering one, because the corridors are crowded with people on their way to see a senator of a congressman and it doesn’t take long to realize that every one of them also has an “ask” … something he or she wants. And we’re no different.
At any rate, I thought you would be interested in an advanced look at a summary of NARP’s “ask”:
1. We want Congress to provide $8.5 billion a year from the next highway/transportation authorization bill to support intercity passenger rail.
2. We want Congress to give the Federal Railroad Administration sole authority to set (and enforce) on-time standards for the freight railroads to meet when Amtrak trains run on their tracks.
3. We want funding for Amtrak to be adequate so that new state-of-the-art locomotives and passenger cars can be acquired … enough new equipment to permit new routes and increased frequencies.
4. We want the federal government to fund the elimination of critical bottlenecks, including tunnels into New York City and through Baltimore, the congested access to Chicago, and a rail connection between the San Joaquin Valley and Los Angeles in California.
Aside from the specific “asks”, we want these elected officials to understand that this country needs a truly national passenger rail network. They have to understand that the long-distance trains feed passengers into the Northeast Corridor … that the two systems are, in fact, interdependent … and that this idea that the Northeast Corridor would be “profitable” on its own is just plain B.S.
We will urge that Amtrak be given enough funding to add at least one new route and trains like the Cardinal and the Sunset Limited can increase their frequencies from three days a week to daily service.
We will also let these officials know that NARP supports policies at all levels of government that will provide financial incentives for private companies to operate passenger trains.
And, finally, we’re going to make sure they know we’ll be back next year … and the following year … and the year after that. We are not going away!