by Sam Hieb
Just take my word for it —the discussion on the Dianne Rehm Show of this week’s tragic Amtrak crash was cringe-inducing. You guessed it—not enough money, not enough money; more money, more money. One caller even had the audacity to place blame for the crash on —get this —Ronald Reagan.
If you want a different perspective, read Antiplanner’s take. Here’s a sample:
In 2008, President Bush signed a law mandating that most railroads, including Amtrak, install positive train control (PTC) by December of 2015. PTC would force trains to slow or stop if the operator ignored signals or speed limits.
In 2009 and 2010, President Obama asked a Democratic Congress to give him $10 billion to spend on high-speed trains, and Congress agreed. Not one cent of that money went to installing PTC in Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.
PTC would have prevented this accident.
…If Congress were to respond to this crash by increasing federal infrastructure spending, it is all too likely that much if not most of that money would go for useless new projects such as new high-speed rail lines, light rail, and bridges to nowhere. We don’t need intercity trains that cost several times as much but go less than half as fast as flying; we don’t need urban trains that cost 50 times as much but can’t carry as many people per hour as buses; we don’t need new bridges if bridge users themselves aren’t willing to pay for them.