Two Cents for Amtrak.

 

Last night on my way home I decided to stop by the Dover train station to catch the northbound Amtrak Downeaster doing its run between Boston and Portland. I haven’t been to the Dover station in about a year and since that time it looks like the City of Dover has opened up a new bike path in the southwest corner of the station area. This is interesting because the start of the bike path itself is the old railroad trestle that was once the rail line that ran from Dover to Portsmouth circa. in the late 1800s to the early 1900s. The trestle has been done over with new wooden decking, wrought iron lighting and the structure has a good view of the river and the downtown area of Dover. This is a good place to ride a mountain bike that’s for sure.

A common thread on this very board is that the federal government and the administration continues to be responsible for deficit spending and in the words of one individual “pushing us over the cliff.” As this is written the canadian dollar is hitting par with the U.S. dollar. So now as countries we’re separate but financially equal. Is this the road to the North American Union?  

So an increasing debt load is creating changing values and changing life. But I know of one federal agency that is not responsible for any of this including the spending.

Amtrak.

The nation’s intercity passenger train service created in 1971 by the Nixon administration from the bankrupt ashes of the Penn Central Railroad Company. Since its inception Amtrak has never had a dedicated revenue source, instead the U.S. Congress simply reauthorizes capital spending as a footnote in a budget bill. Amtrak provides service throughout the U.S. including the high-speed rail Amtrak Acela between Boston-Washington, D.C. and because of this continual lack of revenue or even the potential of access to capital like what most large corporations do Amtrak has never been able to engage in any long-term planning to re-build a passenger train system for this country. Instead Amtrak does a very effective job at managing what limited resources it is given. And because of this I think the argument can be made that at times band aids and duct tape are used to hold things together. Not a way to run a railroad but this is the reality.

Amtrak needs two cents. This would be a good investment for taxpayer funds. The U.S. needs a functional, efficient and fast passenger rail system. This would be good for the economy commerce, transportation and most of all community. I remember Tony Hiss stating in his book, The Experience of Place “That railroads build community while highways destroy them.”

Dover is just one example of this.