Will Obama/Biden White House Really Help Amtrak

Ever since Barack Obama tapped Delaware Senator Joseph Biden as his vice presidential nominee, much has been made of how Amtrak would benefit from an Obama/Biden White House. The general point being how it has been heavily publicized that Joe uses Amtrak to commute daily to & from Washington D.C. The main point stems from his voting record which has shown strong support for funding the much maligned rail road agency.

However an article in yesterday’s Washington Post questions whether an Obama/Biden White House means automatic help for Amtrak. Here is a sample of Ben Pershing’s article:

By now, it’s nearly impossible to have missed the fact that Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), the Democratic vice presidential nominee, is such a homebody and regular guy that he rides Amtrak between Washington and Delaware every day when Congress is in session.

But Biden isn’t just one of the passenger rail system’s most famous commuters — he is also one of its biggest supporters in the Senate.

“He’s right up there,” said David Johnson, deputy director of the National Association of Railroad Passengers. “I’d say in the top five [in the Senate] for sure. I can definitely say he’s the biggest user.”

Click here for the complete article

I am concerned at the mindset of many who feel such a ticket would mean automatic help for Amtrak. The agency which in my & many others opinion continues to be run in the ground should not get more funding until it commits to running itself properly. The agency clearly should shape their routes based on what the passengers actually need & desire instead of wasting money & resources on routes that clearly have a lack of ridership & overall purpose.

My other concern is the lack of talk about how this duo would help fund our transit infrastructure across the country. During Obama’s nomination acceptance speech, I heard about investing in new roads & making cars more affordable. I did not hear a single point of showing a need to invest in our transit systems which would make our country a better place if invested in. The coming months should be quite telling as to how serious this duo is in really helping America improve which strong transit systems would be a vital part of.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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It might seem a minor point, but the National Passenger Rail Corporation (Amtrak) is not an “agency.” It is a corporate entity whose Class A (voting) preferred shares of stock happen to be owned entirely by the U.S. government. The distinction matters because there are also Class B (non-voting) shares of common stock in Amtrak, which are held by the various railroads whose passenger services were transferred to Amtrak in 1970. Since Amtrak has never made a profit, these shares are valued at $0, but they do exist, and they would gain value were Amtrak to move into profitable terrority.

I think that one rail-road infrastructure project that President Obama should consider is the Trans-Global Highway, proposed by Frank X. Didik a number of years ago. Didik, if you recall, was the founder of the Electric Car Society, in the early 1980’s and has been a strong advocate of electric cars for years. According to Didik, the proposed “highway”, which would contain roads, rail roads, water, oil and gas pipes as well electric and communication cables. The highway would use and standardize the existing road networks and build new roads as well as a number of key tunnels. Interestingly, the longest Tunnel in the proposal, would still be shorter than the longest existing tunnel today. It would seem that there are many advantages to the construction of the Trans Global Highway including vastly lower cost and faster shipping, better allocation of resources, the ability of utilizing raw materials and much lower carbon emissions, than the existing transportation system. The highway would open up a new era of international cooperation. The Trans-Global Highway site is located at http://www.TransGlobalHighway.com

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