LaHood Defends Amtrak Against GOP Privatization Plan

In an email statement to Streetsblog, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood expressed concerns about the GOP plan to privatize the Northeast Corridor:

LaHood isn't happy with the GOP plan to privatize Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. Photo: ##http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/monitor_breakfast/2010/0203/Transportation-Secretary-Ray-LaHood-to-call-Toyota-president##Christian Science Monitor##

Chairman Mica and I share a strong interest in high speed rail, particularly in the Northeast Corridor.  He should be commended for giving this topic the attention it deserves.

However, based upon our preliminary review, we have many questions about the Mica proposal’s feasibility.  At present, we believe Amtrak is the entity most capable of taking the next steps to modernize rail service in the Northeast Corridor, which is why the administration has serious concerns about any proposal to privatize Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. The administration also has the responsibility to ensure that taxpayer investments are protected and well-managed.

With 50 million people in the corridor and another 20 million coming over the next generation, the Northeast Corridor can and should be one of the top high speed rail corridors in the world.  I look forward to working with Chairman Mica to make that happen.

  • Anonymous

    The Repub plan will simply add to the confusion about passenger rail and probably delay the largest, urgently needed investments in new-and-improved equipment by another two years or so.

    This Repub plan is a hideous mash-up of the beliefs of economic cultists with whatever falsehoods make the story sound better.

    But the essence is pretty simple: Obama has made passenger rail, especially High Speed Rail, a keynote of his vision for America. And whatever Obama is for, the Reubs are against. So we get this B.S. designed to delay and sabotage the improvements to Amtrak that have been underway for more than two years now, and are accelerating. The Repubs now have to hurry to undermine Amtrak and the President, before the plans for passenger rail can be shown to be a success.

  • Amtrak has had 40 years to make passenger rail better. It is time to try to make a market for the private sector to add and improve service. 

  • Anonymous

    WoodyinNYC, i recently commented on the merits of the Mica plan, but you brought more in more sense to the discussion. The Republicans in Congress are most likely sabotaging Obama since he is committed to HSP. If Amtrak is making needed improvements, the private sector can build on that. No one is stopping the private sector from developing rail, they could do it now. They should take aim at Amtrak and outdo them, if anything. If they can achieve economies of scale and cost-efficiencies better than Amtrak, then defund Amtrak. But so far, the private sector isn’t too involved, and I don’t believe it is because of govt. subsidies to Amtrak. 

    It’s hard to take anyone in Congress seriously anymore. We need HSP, hopefully some ambitious companies can develop it so we don’t have to rely on Congressional fights to get anything done.

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