Last month, we saw the third serious Amtrak accident of 2018 - the third in just in six weeks! Our "infrastructure president" should have his golden hair on fire about our third world inter-city train system. But of course, he can't be bothered. He just gave away $1,500,000,000 in tax cuts to himself and his wealthy pals, so a real effort to fix our miserable public infrastructure isn't going to happen. Fromt time to time there are blog posts and news stories about how aircraft in France struggle to get to their destinations ahead of the TGV trains, and nearly always fail! Every modern nation has rapid rail transit, just as they have universal health care, with the exception of the good old USA.
Which leads me to this opinion. I think Amtrak should be downsized. I know Amtrak's charter requires it to function as a 48-state federally subsidized train network. But it is an imbalanced network. California might be able to build its own high-speed coastal rail system. Amtrak is crucial to the economy of the five city megalopolis from Boston to DC. But it is not crucial anywhere else. It has to run on freight train tracks. Ridership is poor. It can keep the Chicago to LA routes for nostalgia buffs. But it's time to reduce Amtrak to mostly northeast service only. This would require Congressional action. And rather than downsize Amtrak to make it easier to kill, I would argue we need a fully-funded Amtrak to serve the northeast. No reduction in funding. Just a new charter and mission to keep the most important part of the United States running (most important region outside of California and Texas, certainly). Amtrak needs to run better. We need new everything in the northeast. We need new roads, bridges airports, train networks, and subways. Amtrak should be re-chartered as part of a 20-year northeast infrastructure rebuilding plan.
There's just one big problem. We're broke. It's a non-stater. And so the slide into oblivion continues.
Uncle Tim contributed to this post.