Friday, March 04, 2011

Commentary: DEAR MR. PRESIDENT

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Will Florida’s loss be California’s gain? That’s one of many questions that arise from the Florida Supreme Court’s decision that Governor Scott was within his rights in spurning federal grants to bring fast trains to the Sunshine State.

If the Obama Administration really wants to see a corridor in the United States that meets international high speed standards—trains cruising at 200 mph—the fastest path right now may be to transfer Florida’s funds to California, just as the DOT recently transferred funds in smaller amounts from Ohio and Wisconsin, which rejected them, to Florida and California.

There’s a strong feeling at home and abroad that true high speed corridors will never gain a foothold in America until one is actually built to demonstrate its capabilities.

If the corridor fails to meet expectations, the skeptics will be proved to have been right.

If it succeeds, other parts of the country will not only accept high speed trains—they will demand them.

Let’s fund a test that will have more do to do with the nation’s transportation needs than with the proclivity of politicians to spread the money around to garner votes.

Meanwhile, keep going with other parts of your fast train initiative by funding them through Amtrak, which has the experience to build and run them.

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—William C. Vantuono, Editor, Railway Age

William Vantuono

With Railway Age since 1992, Bill Vantuono has broadened and deepened the magazine's coverage of the technological revolution that is so swiftly changing the industry. He has also strengthened Railway Age's leadership position in industry affairs with the conferences he conducts on operating passenger trains on freight railroads and communications-based train control.