Rep Peter DeFazio has authored an amendment that would increase the level of rail funding in the stimulus bill. It’s an excellent idea. Funds for highway repairs are a fine use of stimulus money, but insofar as we’re investing in new transportation capabilities we ought to be investing in what we don’t have enough of—mass transit and intercity rail—while fixing up our vast, but crumbling, road network. Right now the amendment is being bottled up by the Rules Committee, so if you happen to live in a district of one of the members you have a special obligation to get in touch with their office and offer your opinion. But even if DeFazio wins there, there’s still the small matter of the actual vote so even if your member isn’t on Rules, it’s never too early.
Meanwhile, The Hill reports on the promising development—the creation of a new broad-based pro-rail coalition that includes all the key stakeholders:
The newly minted OneRail coalition markets itself as a first time assembly of disparate groups representing commuter rail lines, freight rail lines, public transportation and the environment. [...] Several trade and issue advocacy groups are part of OneRail, 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.
The group will be working on the stimulus package but also, and in my view more importantly, on the reauthorization of the big transportation bill.