Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Little Engine That Couldn't
The Christian Science Monitor has an op/ed on the shortsightedness of the stimulus bill.

Mass-transit supporters are tooting a warning over the Obama-backed stimulus bill. Here's an industry that's light on carbon, oil, and congestion, and all it may get is a $9 billion coach seat on the $825 billion train to economic recovery. Wasn't this recession-ending spending supposed to be a "down payment" on America's infrastructure and clean-energy needs?

There's a danger in expecting too much from a down payment. When it comes to transportation – mass transit, roads, rail, air, and freight – the country's requirements are so vast and interconnected they can't possibly be met in a bill meant for short-term job creation.

The transport sector, so vital to US competitiveness, should be gearing up for what comes after the stimulus. Its many players should be pressuring the new administration and Congress for nothing short of a new approach to moving people, goods, and ideas within and outside America's borders.

We need to build not one but two rail systems for the future. One for freight that is partly in place but needs to be made more efficient. And an all new high speed rail. We can not just build more roads. Especially in the northeastern part of the country. There is no room to make more roads. The sky is already full of planes. It will create a massive amount of construction jobs and many permanent railroad jobs. And if they were powered by electricity it would meet our national security needs. And if the electricity was made by wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal it would meet outr global warming needs.

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