Making the Case for More Trains.

Writer James McCommons spent the better part of a year traveling around the U.S. on Amtrak trains to interview a variety of knowledgeable people about this country’s transportation problems. And if you are under the illusion that we don’t have problems, let me quote just one paragraph from his terrific book, Waiting On A Train:

“California has big transportation problems: it contains three of the nation’s most congested urban areas, transportation accounts for 40 percent of its air-quality problems, congestion costs $20 billion a year in fuel consumption and lost productivity, and the state may add another 20 million people over the next twenty years, reaching 50 million. These statistics have staggering implications. If the trains system is not built, studies show the government will have to build 3,000 additional miles of freeways and expand all major airports at a cost of $82 billion.”

What’s so maddening about the anti-rail people is their shallow “arguments”. They object to a subsidy for Amtrak, but ignore the fact that every form of public transportation is subsidized. They claim “no one will ride” proposed new transit systems when, once completed, every new system in the country has exceeded ridership projections. Every one! And they never, ever discuss the consequences of not expanding and improving our national transportation infrastructure. If “gummint” is involved, they’re against it. If Obama proposes it, they hate it. We can only hope that eventually facts will become relevant to the decision-making process and that the clear thinkers will prevail.

Once again, the book is Waiting On A Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service–A Year Spent Riding across America. Go here to order your copy. It’s an terrific read. And it’s an important work.