Moorman: Time to Fish or Cut Bait.
Amtrak’s President and CEO, Wick Moorman,testified before a Congressional committee the other day and laid out the reasons why now is the time to secure Amtrak’s future. Moorman reminded the committee that Amtrak is 45 years old and, after setting ridership records year after year despite decades of living hand to mouth, it’s past time for Congress to (OK, I’m paraphrasing liberally here) to step up to the damn plate!
Essentially, that means Moorman knows there must be a firm commitment to rebuild a lot of the Amtrak infrastructure, including—but by no means limited to—the Hudson River and Baltimore tunnels, a number of critical bridges, and improvements to stations in Washington and Chicago. He also emphasized the need to replace aging equipment, both locomotives and passenger cars, across the entire system.
And, since you can never go wrong stating the obvious in the hope that members of Congress will actually get it, Moorman stressed that rebuilding Amtrak would create jobs—a lot of very good jobs—and he specifically referred to re-establishing the capability to build passenger cars here in the U.S. Let us hope that struck a responsive chord among GOP committee members.
The thing is, Moorman is right. Realistically, how much longer can Amtrak continue to muddle along? The tunnels under the Hudson River connecting New Jersey and New York City are something like 110 years old and in 2012 Hurricane Sandy damn near closed them down permanently. And you think those tunnels are old? The train taking Abraham Lincoln to his inauguration passed through tunnels under the city of Baltimore and they’re still in use today.
But it’s scary because the first month of the Trump Administration has been a tad less that reassuring. Let us take heart, however, and trust that the merits of a modern, efficient national passenger rail system will become apparent to an administration that is, in the words of The Leader himself, ”running like a fine-tuned machine”.
The main thing is that all of us advocating more and better and faster trains have to stay focused, telephone our representatives in Congress, and bombard our representatives and senators with phone calls of support for Amtrak. As a former New Yorker roommate of mine was want to say, “Couldn’ hoit!”