Need a New Amtrak Station? Tough!
As a retired advertising guy, I’ve always admired the ability to express thoughts that grab someone’s attention in just a few words. It’s hard—very hard—but we remember the really good ones, even after many years.
This is one I remember—from back in the days of the Vietnam War, I guess. In case it’s too small to read, it says: “It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.”
I was reminded of that quote when I came across a news story about a fellow named Jeff Campbell, who has set out to raise money for a new railway station in the town of Fulton, Kentucky. Amtrak’s City of New Orleans stops in Fulton: 1:00 in the morning for the northbound train and not quite two-and-a-half hours later comes the southbound. Those less-than-desirable hours are no doubt one for the main reasons for the new station, which will provide a safe, comfortable place for passengers to wait.
The old station is bare bones, basically just enough to provide minimal shelter. The new one will be a step up and, says Campbell, reminiscent of the Fulton station back when they had a dozen trains a day stopping there. It’s going to cost about $125,000 and they’re almost there … just $10,000 to go.
OK, so here’s my question for the day: Why do the good people of Fulton, Kentucky, have to have a damn bake sale to get an adequate railroad station?
When was the last time you read about ordinary citizens out raising money for a new airport? Never, of course. Instead, government pays for it … the feds or the state or the municipality. Or all three.
The fact is, government at one level or another subsidizes every form of public transportation, from the airlines on down to bike lanes. But only when it comes to passenger rail do politicians throw a hissy fit and say that long-distance trains should be able to operate without any government support. And that’s why Jeff Campbell is going around the Twin Cities area on the Kentucky/Tennessee border trying to raise that last ten grand.
Well, good for Jeff, but it’s a damn shame he has to do it.