Listening to the President on Transportation

Over the last few weeks, President Obama has made a few different statements that have gotten the attention of urbanists and sustainable transportation advocates. Could it be? Does this guy really get it? And if so, what is he going to do about it?

Deron Lovaas of NRDC Switchboard has done a great job of connecting the dots on Obama’s comments, and he likes what he hears — especially in the remarks the president made in an interview with reporters aboard Air Force One last week, which were reported yesterday on Transportation for America‘s blog:

These words point in a new direction for transportation policy, one that bodes well for energy security and climatic stability. We stand ready to work with the President to flesh out the vision, and hope it will include bold proposals like the National Association of Railroad Passenger’s map of new intercity rail lines, construction of which would double the nation’s passenger rail capacity and put the mileage almost on par with our world-class 47,000-mile Interstate Highway System.

Are you feeling the optimism?

217604383_e4995666f1_m.jpgPhoto by Gilliamhome via Flickr.

Apparently you’d better be, if you want to keep your job at Amtrak. Seattle Transit Blog passes along the news (from Trains Newswire) that the new Amtrak CEO, Joseph Boardman, isn’t pleased with the fatalistic attitude he’s found among the rail service’s employees: 

Boardman said in an interview that shortly after leaving the top spot at the Federal Railroad Administration last Thanksgiving to take over Amtrak, he discovered that the passenger rail system is in worse shape than he thought, and that some people in Amtrak headquarters in Washington are, in effect, burnout cases. He would not be specific about numbers, saying he has still made no final decisions about how many people will have to leave because they cannot make the transition from survival to growth.

"There are a whole host of people here who don’t know whether to believe," he said. "People are going to have to get on the train. We will make some judgments very soon."

While you’re waiting for Amtrak to enter the 21st century, reports Trains for America, you ought to get yourself a ticket on the Acela. Seats on the high-speed service are being discounted due to a drop in business travel.

  • mfs

    This kind of shake up at Amtrak is seriously needed to provide better quality service.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Obama’s 2014 Transpo Budget Calls for Higher Spending, HSR

|
The Obama Administration has put forward an opening bid in what are sure to be contentious 2014 budget negotiations, issuing a solidly progressive transportation budget that calls for increased overall spending and continued investment in passenger rail. The $76 billion transportation budget would represent a 5.5 percent, or $4 billion, spending increase over 2012 levels. […]

Behind President Obama’s Call For More Infrastructure Projects

|
Tomorrow night, President Obama will unveil his jobs plan before a skeptical Congress. It’s unclear how much of the $300 billion proposal will go to infrastructure, but the president has said that will be a centerpiece of the proposal. An infrastructure bank and a new version of the expired Build America Bonds program could also […]

Will the Nation’s First Strategic Freight Plan be Multi-Modal?

|
Congress is joining U.S. DOT in committing more resources to a national freight plan, a more strategic way of moving goods than the current haphazard and fragmented current approach. As mandated by MAP-21, U.S. DOT is working on a strategic plan for a nationwide freight network, and last month, Congress kicked off its contribution, holding […]

The Ray LaHood Exit Interview

|
I had the chance to sit down with Ray LaHood yesterday morning before he spoke to the U.S. High-Speed Rail Association. Our conversation covered a wide range of topics, looking back on his four years at the helm of the U.S. Department of Transportation. We’ll publish the interview in three installments over the next few […]