So, with an expanded and improved passenger rail system such an obvious way to go, I must once again point to John McCain’s abysmal record with respect to Amtrak. Why isn’t it more of an issue? It sure as hell ought to be! Consider:
* When he was chair of the Senate Science, Commerce and Transportation Committee in 2000, McCain killed $10 billion in funding for Amtrak.
* Two years later, McCain introduced legislation that would have phased Amtrak out of business.
(When David Gunn, Amtrak’s president at the time, appeared before a congressional hearing, McCain demanded that all federal support of Amtrak be eliminated. Gunn’s response was classic. He asked McCain if he would also demand the same of the commuter airlines … an excellent question, because McCain’s constituents, the people of Arizona, depend on those small airlines to get around their state. The record shows that McCain did not reply.)
* More recently, McCain said if he’s elected president he’ll try again to eliminate federal subsidy for Amtrak which would shut the railroad down almost overnight. Seriously? ‘Fraid so, and he's said that position is “non-negotiable.”
Probably the best way to determine how much importance a candidate gives to any given issue is to look at his/her campaign web site. Check McCain’s. I could find nothing when searching for the words transportation, transit, rail or Amtrak. Zero, zip, nada.
Here’s a reasonably good summary of John McCain’s record on Amtrak.
Read it and weep.