Friday, July 13, 2007

A Hitch?

Another item from Fritz:


I’m pissed off again. This reporter says Alex Metcalfe’s Indiana HSR plan would generate 19,000 permanent jobs but there’s a “hitch:” It will cost $2.5 billion over 10 years.,121BIZ5.article

Why is that sum a “hitch?” Why isn’t it simply described as the “price?” If I go to the supermarket and find that grapefruit costs 69 cents a pound, that’s not a “hitch.” It’s what grapefruit costs these days. If I drop off my shirt at the dry cleaner’s and they tell me it will cost $1 to have it laundered, that’s not a “hitch” (unless I walked in believing that somebody is laundering shirts for free—right?). It’s the price of getting a shirt cleaned.

The media do this all the time. Highways and airports get paid for with huge sums of taxpayer money that are rarely questioned, but when it’s announced that a railroad improvement also requires payment, everybody is shocked and sobered. Who is supposed to pay for these improvements—the Tooth Fairy?

These sums may sound big, but when you calculate the creation of 19,000 new permanent jobs and all the ripple-effect economic growth they will create, including higher tax receipts to the state and federal governments that will put up the money, the Indiana high-speed project sounds like a bargain. And when you throw in the “green” payoffs and the sheer economic efficiency of rail transportation vs. auto, paying $2.5 billion over 10 years to get all these benefits sounds like such a no-brainer that even a stringer for a Northwest Indiana newspaper ought to be able to get it. Apparently, we advocates still have lots of work to do.

I remain in near-despair over the media’s repeated failures to cover railroad issues effectively. Their anti-rail bias continues to show even when they make their best effort to pose as “fair and balanced.”


Friday, July 06, 2007

Economist: Europe's high-speed rail revolution

Remember, Europe is essentially the United States from the Mississippi River east.

The Economist lays out the incredibly exciting development in high-speed rail in Europe. This must be our lodestar. Please share this article with as many elected officials, community leaders and business people you know to help inspire them to see what service we can enjoy in the United States.

After all, if we want to remain economically competitive with the European Union, we need to move beyond wasting hours and hours at overcrowded airports and leaving millions of smaller communities without airport service outside of any non-automobile transportation network. Otherwise, we are imposing additional costs due to transportation waste on all of our products and services and will have to charge more than the Europeans will for their products and services with their low-cost efficient transportation networks that lower their cost of doing business.

Here is the article and the closing paragraph.

Whether through competition, co-operation or both, a plethora of European directives such as the “Railway Interoperability Directive” and the “Third Railway Package” will encourage the emergence of this new era of international rail travel. Rail bosses note that on six-hour journeys they are typically winning more than 60% of the leisure market from airlines. The same is happening with business travellers on four-hour journeys. It may be a while before you can choose between a French TGV or a German ICE to ride to Bucharest or even Naples. But as when Lenin sped in his sealed carriage through war-torn Germany 90 years ago, the train of revolution has left the station.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Lobby day: July 11

From one of our allied organizations: a lobby day for Wednesday, July 11th for transit funding! It's Springfield time...

CNT is helping to organize a Transit Lobby Day Wednesday July 11th in support of SB 572. We are asking organizations to and send a representative(s) to Springfield for the day and invite their membership to participate. We are planning on taking Amtrak to Springfield in the morning but we are also exploring the idea of renting a bus and splitting the cost.

We hope to start the day at 10:30 with a quick overview of the legislation and distribution of materials (fact sheets, etc). If you or your organization is interested in participating please email or call me. We would like to have a large group to demonstrate how important this issue is to the people of Northeastern Illinois.

For more information on SB 572, please visit House sponsor Rep. Julie Hamos’ website: I also expect there to be further amendments to the legislation including the CTA pension agreement and RTA governance changes.


David Le Breton

Project Manager, Transit Future

Center for Neighborhood Technology