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Green Stimulus Part 2


One of the line items in the current economic stimulus package provides financial support to Amtrak.  The last administration did not provide the necessary funds to help Amtrak improve its operations.  The new one has.  But, the package falls short.  I don’t think the political will is there to really back an overhaul of our rail transit systems.  Currently Amtrak and most commuter lines around the country run on the rail lines maintained by the freight companies; like Union Pacific, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Canadian National.  The freight lines do an excellent job investing and maintaining their lines.  The only issue is that commuter lines and Amtrak must allow freight to take precedence over people.  What is needed is a national program to build out rail service for moving people.  Not only from city to city, but within those cities as well.  A few cities do it very well.  Like my home town Chicago.  My only criticism is that in Chicago the spokes are not connected.  Chicago’s commuter lines radiate from the city center as spokes on a wheel.  Those spokes need to be connected so people can move easily within the Chicago area without heading into the city center and then back out.  London’ tube system and the Paris Metro operate on a spoke system as well, but they are all connected.

We need to invest in light rail around the country, and high speed city to city connections, like Acela has achieved in the northeastern part of the US.  This would be a massive public works program that would cut down on fuel emissions, reduce congestion, provide public work jobs for years to come, and link neighborhoods.  A massive rail build out program would greatly improve our daily lives.  This should be part of our next green stimulus bill.

John Vlahakis

Light Rail in San Diego, CA
Light Rail in San Diego, CA


  1. You are right; the best way to cut back on foreign oil dependence is mass rail. It makes so much sense – and where there are convenient rail systems, all kinds of other businesses spring up at stations – coffee shops, book stores, cleaners and more, because businesses go where the people are. Economic stimulus indeed!


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