Two good posts (one, two) from Ryan Avent on rail funding and planning issues. I would add that making everything more difficult here is that the lines of political authority in the Northeast of the United States were drawn a very long time ago — often literally hundreds of years ago — and don’t match up especially well with the way patterns of residence and commerce actually exist. Manhattan is governed by institutions located in Albany that also run far-off Buffalo but have no authority in Hoboken right across the river.
Neither the government in Richmond nor the government in Annapolis takes the problems of the DC metro area to be its primary concern, because most residents of Virginia don’t live in the area and neither do most residents of Maryland. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The Washington-Arlington-Alexandria MSA contains over five million people, making it bigger than most states. And if it were a state, that state would probably engage in more more sensible regional transportation planning. But it’s not so we don’t get it.