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Old 01-29-2009, 01:05 PM
 
419 posts, read 1,163,726 times
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Above all I think it should have a national and local rail plan.

Build a system covering every major city in the US, a bullet train rail system. Amtrak is pretty weak, rebuild it all. The airline industry shouldn't be our only form of travel across the country (beside cars of course). Rail would not require the amount spent on security that the airline industry does either, you can't take a train and run it into a building.

Every large city/metro area should have light rail or something similar also.

Now this would cost TONS but considering we are getting ready to pass an 800 billion stimulus plan, I think this would be money well spent.

It would create hundreds of thousands of jobs id expect. You would not only need labor, you would need customer service, IT people, architects, geologist( i think? ), etc..

it would take a long time, but it's guaranteed to create jobs, help the environment, reduce are use of gasoline, improve communities....

Last edited by Bo; 01-29-2009 at 08:12 PM.. Reason: Updated title to better reflect the topic, since you're not inviting members to submit their suggestions for the Stimulus plan.
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Old 01-29-2009, 01:24 PM
 
Location: ITP
2,133 posts, read 5,624,230 times
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I totally agree with your diagnosis of the state of our nation's transportation infrastructure and your suggested remedies. However the stimulus package is set up only for projects that are "shovel ready"--or projects that can start in three years. Given the amount of planning and analysis needed to design and build a national rail system, as well as regional inter-city and commuter rail networks, a transportation reauthorization bill will best handle that.

The reauthorization bill will lay out a plan for investment in transportation and prioritize different projects that are crucial to improving transportation. It also allocates the necessary Federal funds. I'm guessing that we'll see one within the next year.
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Old 01-29-2009, 07:58 PM
 
Location: Pennsylvania
5,540 posts, read 9,954,943 times
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I think it would be great to have better rail service, but it's just not practical to connect all the major cities in the US. Even with bullet trains, for short trips people would fly from, say, Philly to Chicago rather than train it. We would wind up with a very expensive and underused system. I do agree though with the idea of developing more metropolitan rail service - cutting down on local commuting would have a far greater impact on the environment and would get much more use.
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Old 01-29-2009, 08:10 PM
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Location: Ohio
16,828 posts, read 33,250,561 times
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The airlines would hate and fight a national intercity rail initiative. They spend millions on Washington lobbyists that the rail industry would be hard-pressed to match. The public sees rail as a step backward in transportation technology, and this is a country that loathes moving backwards. Without a groundswell of public support that just isn't there for rail, a large-scale rail-building program would never stand a chance in Congress.
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Old 01-29-2009, 09:13 PM
 
5,861 posts, read 14,066,992 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maf763 View Post
I think it would be great to have better rail service, but it's just not practical to connect all the major cities in the US. Even with bullet trains, for short trips people would fly from, say, Philly to Chicago rather than train it. We would wind up with a very expensive and underused system. I do agree though with the idea of developing more metropolitan rail service - cutting down on local commuting would have a far greater impact on the environment and would get much more use.
Depends on the routes. There have been plans on the table here in the Twin Cities for years for a mega-lev train to Chicago. The trip would take less than 3 hours center city-to-center city. To travel from downtown Minneapolis to the Loop in Chicago now, it's a 20 minute cab ride to the airport, an hour hanging round the airport going thru security and checking in, ~1 hour twenty minutes in the air, and a 30-45 minute cab ride to the Loop. Pretty competitive, I'd say.
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Old 01-30-2009, 05:53 AM
 
Location: Pennsylvania
5,540 posts, read 9,954,943 times
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That's similar to the northeast corridor where people are as likely to take the train from NY to Boston or Washington as fly, but I see that as regional rather than national service as proposed in the original post.
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Old 01-30-2009, 06:19 AM
 
Location: Little Rock, AR
138 posts, read 325,823 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maf763 View Post
I think it would be great to have better rail service, but it's just not practical to connect all the major cities in the US. Even with bullet trains, for short trips people would fly from, say, Philly to Chicago rather than train it. We would wind up with a very expensive and underused system. I do agree though with the idea of developing more metropolitan rail service - cutting down on local commuting would have a far greater impact on the environment and would get much more use.
Soon people may not have the option to fly - either due to the airlines pulling out of all but the most major airports or an oil crisis. High speed rail is a much better long-term investment for transportation in this country. I think we would be in much better shape now if we would have kept our rail instead of shifting the focus to interstate highways and airlines.
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Old 01-30-2009, 10:41 AM
 
419 posts, read 1,163,726 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bowie View Post
The airlines would hate and fight a national intercity rail initiative. They spend millions on Washington lobbyists that the rail industry would be hard-pressed to match. The public sees rail as a step backward in transportation technology, and this is a country that loathes moving backwards. Without a groundswell of public support that just isn't there for rail, a large-scale rail-building program would never stand a chance in Congress.
I don't think thats true.

With the cost of flying, new technologies in rail would make it more attractive. To many people would it be safer and more comfortable.


Flying may be the quickest, but it doesn't mean it is the best method or a step backward.

I agree the airline industry would fight it, but that doesn't mean they would win. Especially with an administration and congress controller by people who... well supposidly.. don't want lobbyist influencing things.
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Old 01-30-2009, 11:13 AM
 
Location: Southeast
4,296 posts, read 6,278,169 times
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Well, for starters, the Unions would throw a fit if significant investments were made in the area of national rail infrastructure. If people start using trains more regularly, airline pilots would be out of the job, people would buy fewer cars, etc.

The national rail network fell apart in post-WWII era when the population of the United States began to shift to the suburbs and became auto-centric. There were a few profitable passenger routes, especially in the South where the Interstate network was no where near finished. Then president Richard Nixon along with congress approved the creation of a new government owned enterprise; Amtrak, in 1972 to preserve American passenger rail service.

Ironically, it was the Democrats who chopped up the Amtrak network in 1977. The system was cut in half, mostly due to deteriorating infrastructure in the Midwest.

Now, the only way passenger rail would ever return to more common usage is if it becomes a lot more reliable. Infrastructure upgrades (concrete ties, superelevation, grade separation, etc.) needs come about so trains can travel faster. Also, Amtrak should focus on regional, medium distance trips. Airlines have the long distance covered, and most people take their cars on short trips.

On average, new 200mph+ track paralleling existing right of ways would run up to $2-3 million per mile. Completely doable with the right amount of $$$. Intercity light rail on the other hand can run up into the billions of dollars for only a few miles of track.

Even though during the elections I was confident electing Obama would help the national rail network, I have my doubts now that this $850 billion dollar stimulus package will have our hands tied for quite some time.
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Old 01-30-2009, 11:43 AM
 
Location: Jersey City
6,490 posts, read 16,181,014 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by south-to-west View Post
I totally agree with your diagnosis of the state of our nation's transportation infrastructure and your suggested remedies. However the stimulus package is set up only for projects that are "shovel ready"--or projects that can start in three years. Given the amount of planning and analysis needed to design and build a national rail system, as well as regional inter-city and commuter rail networks, a transportation reauthorization bill will best handle that.

The reauthorization bill will lay out a plan for investment in transportation and prioritize different projects that are crucial to improving transportation. It also allocates the necessary Federal funds. I'm guessing that we'll see one within the next year.
Yes, the big buzz word in the transportation world right now is "REAUTHORIZATION." Our current surface transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU, expires September 30. Prior to the economic meltdown, there was already lots of speculation that the new surface transportation bill would change the way we plan and finance transportation projects. I can only imagine that in light of some of the buzz about infrastructure investment (finally), we'll certainly see someting new in the next TEA bill.
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