What's bad for Wisconsin and Ohio — high-speed rail, according to the states' new Governors — may end up being very good for many other states. Neighboring Indiana and Illinois, as well as California, Washington, New York, Maine, Missouri and maybe even Florida, are reaping a little extra as the FRA redirects Wisconsin and Ohio's rejected millions intended for the rail systems.
While Wisconsin will still get to keep up to $2 million of the federal funds it was awarded for its Amtrak-Hiawatha line, since Governor elect Scott Walker refused to change his mind about turning down federal high-speed rail funds last week, the FRA took the rest of the $810 million and reapportioned it to more appreciative states.
Ohio's governor elect, John Kasich, of a similar mindset, lost his state $400 million. Despite that, the state's rail advocates remain optimistic. As Ken Prendergast, executive director of rail advocacy group All Aboard Ohio, told reporter Lyndsey Teter of Columbus, Ohio's The Other Paper, "I've watched this project die seven times in 26 years...This is the closest we've gotten, and we get a little closer each time." The article adds that advocates are working to form a Joint Powers Authority, which may be able to legally take over the 3C Corridor project - high-speed rail from Columbus to Cincinnati to Cleveland - with permission from the feds.
Many Wisconsinites, though, are not happy. On Monday, protesters gathered in Milwaukee, claiming that Walker drove away 15,000 jobs when he turned down the funds. The protesters are demanding that Walker include Milwaukee job creation in a special emergency jobs session of the legislature next month, on his first day in office.
This is the second protest of the Governor-elect's rejection of the funds in as many months. Last month, labor leaders and politicians rallied at the Milwaukee plant of Spanish train maker Talgo Inc., which will soon leave the state, and called on Walker to drop his opposition of the project. Speakers argued that an improved train system would boost local commerce and help the environment and that the area needs the jobs.
The Mayor of Madison, Dave Cieslewicz, agrees. In a blog post on Thursday, the Mayor discussed Talgo's planned relocation from Milwaukee in 2012, and pointed to the way that Florida Governor elect Rick Scott, also skeptical about rail, handled the situation. "He's willing to listen to different points of view before he just says no. As a result, Talgo is considering relocating jobs that would have gone to Wisconsinites to Florida instead."
So, in the middle of one of the worst times for unemployment in recent memory, these two upper Midwestern states are turning away jobs. The Governors claim that they don't want to saddle state taxpayers with operating costs, but is that concern worth sacrificing jobs and a better transit future now? Do they care that in the long run they may end up being left far behind?
Usually by early January, I will hopefully have taken down the last of our holiday decorations and eaten or given away the remaining sweets that have become a part of my regular diet during the month of December. Then, of course like most people, I’ll think about ways I want to improve myself for the coming year. Whether it be exercising more (walking from the parking lot to my office doesn’t count), eating less ice cream or managing my email better. The latter practice alone would help improve my efficiency at work immensely. I’m sure you probably feel the same way.
A new National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study solidifies what the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Transit Savings Report has been telling us for years now: riding public transportation can save users money.
June 20 will mark the 8th annual National Dump the Pump Day sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Driving a bus never looked easy. Living in California and being stuck in my car as much as I am, I’ve always had tremendous respect for the men and women who operate buses on a daily basis. So, when the call came that I would get my shot to drive in Sunday’s APTA Bus Roadeo, I was both excited and nervous.
Earlier this week, Metro Atlanta voters in 10 counties shot down the “Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax,” or T-SPLOST, by an overwhelming a majority, 63% to 37%.
If passed, T-SPLOST would have created a 1% sales tax to help pay for an already determined $7.2 billion package of regional transportation projects, including $3.2 billion for transit plus another $1.1 billion in local projects.