I am, of course, an advocate for expanding and improving America’s passenger rail system. There are just too many reasons why we ought to be putting a lot more resources toward that as a national goal. Rail is the way to go because it’s good for the environment, it will reduce our dependence on oil, and it can dramatically reduce congestion in the air and on our highways. (Much more on this in later posts.)
A bigger, better national passenger rail system is a no-brainer! Every other country in the world has already figured that out, even third world countries. So why does the power elite in this country keep trying to starve Amtrak to death?
In his current budget, President Bush has proposed cutting Amtrak’s subsidy by 40 percent, which would, for starters, mean kissing all the railroad’s long distance routes good-bye. That’s crazy, of course, and Congress won’t let it happen. But it does reflect the Bush Administration’s mind-set.
Ah, you say, but Bush will be out of office in less than a year. True, but if John McCain is elected, Amtrak will be – as we say here in Hawaii – in deep kim chee. McCain has been an implacable opponent of Amtrak over the years and has said shutting Amtrak down completely would be “non-negotiable” if he’s elected president. That is truly mind-boggling.
Each of us can come up with a list of pluses and minuses for John McCain’s candidacy. His attitude toward our national rail passenger system should come down on the negative side … with a very loud thud!