Accessibility

Rail races to watch in November

Posted on September 9, 2010 by Cliff Henke

[IMAGE]rails-4.jpg[/IMAGE]In the last column, I mentioned that the current political situation is similar to 1938 and 1994, when the president's fiscal policies were being opposed by those who pushed for less spending and lowering the deficit as ways out of the economic hole. In the mid 1930s, the Roosevelt administration's big programs had worked, but only to a point. The critics got their way, and a second recession in the late 1930s was the result. This backlash scenario is at work again in key political races at both federal and state levels this fall.

Harbinger of things to come

In the congressional mid-term elections, Republicans are campaigning against both the health care legislation as well as the 2009 stimulus bill, even the parts that were for infrastructure spending. As a harbinger of what could come if they succeed in winning back control of either the House or Senate, their proposal for "paying for" extension of unemployment insurance was to kill the unspent parts of infrastructure spending in the stimulus, including the high-speed rail program. The extreme rhetoric covered not just the unobligated (i.e. unawarded) funding but the unspent money, meaning even those funds that have been awarded to states and cities but not yet outlayed could also be affected by such a proposal, if enacted. It's a little unclear how this could be accomplished, since many projects with obligated but unspent funding have already broken ground. However, it gives you an idea of the extremity of positions in this election year.

Railing against rail projects

At the state level, candidates are railing against high-speed rail projects, even those that successfully received federal money. In Wisconsin, for example, Scott Walker, the Republican candidate for governor, launched a major attack against the intercity passenger rail project to extend the Amtrak Hiawatha line from Milwaukee to Madison. Walker has promised to stop construction if he is elected, and his campaign, which held an anti-train rally in Milwaukee, began running TV ads promising to stop the project and created a new Website (www.NoTrain.com).

Although not as strident as Walker, California's Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has also opposed her state's plans — the largest, most ambitious high-speed project in the country, and one of the largest in the world. She has not indicated how she would stop it, however, especially since voters have approved the plan, including nearly $10 billion in bonds. In addition, she proposes a cut in the annual state budget of $10 billion, particularly targeting public transportation, schools and health care.

And these are among the moderates in the Republican Party. Thus, this November represents an evolution of how the political class, and possibly voters, view high-speed rail and rail transit. One party clearly favors such investments, while the other major party for the most part favors further tax cuts over infrastructure investments. Some two dozen initiatives will also be on the ballot.

Whether the 70-plus percentage victory streak voters have given transit during the last decade continues remains to be seen.

 

 

 

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

UTA outfitting 2 paratransit buses with hybrid-drive systems

The energy will be used to help power the vehicles and run the climate control systems, lights, ramps and wheelchair lift while the buses are stopped, eliminating the need for idling.

First Transit wins 2 medical transport contracts

The Non-Emergent Medical Transportation contracts are for the Oregon Health Authority’s Tri County MedLink and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Managed Care Network's Family Health Network.

Sure-Lok retractor makes wheelchair securement fast, easy

The Titan800 Retractor System is designed to meet the latest WC18 industry regulations, which take effect December 2015.

 

Reasonable modification rule to improve accessibility introduced

The Final Rule applies to public entities providing fixed route, dial-a-ride and complementary paratransit services. It establishes that an individual’s disability cannot preclude a public transportation entity from providing full access to its service except where doing so would fundamentally alter the service.

San Francisco kicks off free rides program for seniors, people with disabilities

Following unanimous approval by the SFMTA board in January, the SFMTA has worked tirelessly to meet the city’s demand for this program. In just over one month, the SFMTA has processed more than 38,000 applications for the Free Muni program expansion.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)



More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The resource for managers of class 1-7 truck Fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close