Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Streetsblog.net

GAO Says We Need More Than a Vision for High Speed Rail

Excited about the prospect of high speed rail in America? Lots of people have been. But as Yonah Freemark reports on The Transport Politic, yesterday the General Accountability Office threw a bit of a wet blanket on the growing enthusiasm. The GAO is saying the Obama administration has so far failed to provide clear goals and a comprehensive plan for a high speed rail system:

254090836_5e5e644124_m.jpgWant trains like Spain's? We need a plan. Photo by dewet via Flickr.

[A]t a [June 23] hearing in the U.S. Senate, General Accounting Office Director of Physical Infrastructure Susan Fleming described her concerns
about the government’s distribution of high-speed rail funds. She focused on the Federal Railroad Administration’s unwillingness thus far to lay out specific goals for American fast train strategy and argued that the Department of Transportation must establish a coordinated, long-term plan for providing funds. Meanwhile, Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman and Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo continued to mistakenly argue that U.S. plans match those of European countries.

Ms. Fleming’s statement comes three months after the release of GAO’s major report on high-speed rail, which advocated a major federal investment in the transportation mode. Emphasizing that that report pushed the DOT to pinpoint specific goals for rail improvement, Ms. Fleming argued that the Obama Administration’s actions so far were little more than a “vision,” rather than “a strategic plan.”

The U.S. must “define goals for investing in high speed rail,” she said, and describe “how these investments will achieve them, how the federal government will determine which corridors it could invest in, [and] how high speed rail investments could be evaluated against possible alternative modes in those corridors.”
Ms. Fleming said that the FRA largely agreed with her opinions. In
fact, DOT has been planning to release a draft national rail plan by
mid-October; however, that is a month after the FRA will release initial stimulus bill grants to applicant projects for rail investment.

Meanwhile, Greater Greater Washington looks at Metro's safety systems in the wake of Monday's crash. Complete Streets Blog reports they're rallying for complete streets in Topeka, KS.  And Hard Drive writes about a study that shows that for the first time, more people in Amsterdam are making trips by bicycle than by car.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Friday’s Headlines Are Still Unsafe

Traffic deaths are declining for those ensconced in thousands of pounds of steel. For the rest of us, not so much.

April 12, 2024

Measure HLA Is Now Officially Law for L.A. City

Check the city maps to find what bus, bike, and walk improvements are coming to streets in your neighborhood.

April 12, 2024

Talking Headways Podcast: Women’s Transportation Seminar

Sara Stickler of WTS International on women’s expertise in transportation and opportunities for mentorship, leadership and education.

April 11, 2024

Don’t Call Thursday’s Headlines a Comeback

Transit ridership isn't all the way back yet, but it continues to climb after collapsing during COVID. Unfortunately, the financial effects of the pandemic on transit agencies still linger.

April 11, 2024

Long-Awaited Report Reveals Widespread Parking Crime by NYPD

The overdue report confirms years of Streetsblog reporting on placard abuse, illegal parking and enforcement failures by the police under two mayors.

April 11, 2024
See all posts