Trains Need to Throw Some Money Around

Posted by Morgan Clendaniel

Here is a little addendum to Ben Jervey's piece about how rail transit is getting hosed in the haggling over the stimulus bill. Part of the problem is that both car makers and road builders are throwing a lot of money at Congress, and both have a lot of congressmen in their pockets.However, the rail, especially passenger rail, doesn't have much to do with shaping laws, which is part of the reason why it's the first thing to get kicked out of the stimulus bill when tax refunds have to be shoehorned in. Passenger rail lacks the cohesive constituency that could put dollars behind a lobbying effort, back pro-rail Congresspersons, and/or fight anti-rail ones.That's why we're so impressed by the launch of the OneRail Coalition, which is made up of many interest groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Amtrak, the American Short Line & Regional Railroad Association, the Association of American Railroads, and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership. Hopefully, OneRail will be able to put some muscle into government support of rail travel at a time when it could be really helpful both in terms of job creation and environmental protection. Lord knows, Amtrak needs some more money behind it if it's really going to start working. And, as Matthew Yglesias notes here, in addition to the stimulus bill, there is a big transportation bill coming up for re-authorization. The Coalition could really help move that forward.Here is OneRail's spartan website, where you can see what they are doing, and where, we hope, more information and ways to get involved will soon be available.