Questionable Investment


 In a guest blog Marcel Vanderpunke

Infrastructure and transportation in the United States is not in a position today to erase the competitive edge of emerging markets. “

The author never defines exactly what he means by infrastructure and transportation, exactly what systems are you talking about Mr. Vanderpunke?

 “But a serious investment in transportation, alternative energy exploration and efficiency would put America back into the driver’s seat on commodity prices.”

Again the author does not define exactly what he means by this statement. Later on I’ll offer a short précis of some of the transportation systems in the U.S. as I think the Vanderpunke statement is clearly flawed.

“Where I saw nothing but despair only months ago, today I see a glimmer of that sweet blessed thing we call "transportation."

There is some limited truth to this statement. Especially about the idea of linking demand, markets and sources of supply (commodities).  As an example, “without truckers there is no food, no building and no toys to play with.” Source: The Cold Hard Truth.

But I still don’t think taxpayer capital or investment is needed, realistically in the movement of freight. Competition, deregulation and private initiative I think does a much better job in creating a viable transportation system in the U.S.

Consider what U.S. freight railroads do on a daily basis. The tonnage moved, the service offered and in the end a strategic link between demand and markets. U.S. railroads are hauling more than ever and at a faster rate. I’ve discussed on this very board some of the infrastructure improvements being made to freight railroads here in the northeast and New Hampshire. For example, no taxpayer capital has been used in the formation of the Patriot Corridor.

If there needs to be an investment anywhere it should be in the areas that are served by transportation systems, not investing in the systems themselves. Examples might include the Maine paper industry, intermodal based terminals and business ventures that create regional economic development and jobs.

This investment would need to be followed by Amtrak.  

Amtrak has done a quality job with the resources that it has but it will require a massive capital infusion to bring in ideas like high-speed rail throughout the U.S.  And even if this capital investment is made, which I think is doubtful I don’t think it would be enough alone to “put America back in the driver’s seat.”

It just isn't realistic.

Source: The Cold Hard Truth.