Tuesday, November 11, 2008

We still don't get it.

As I mentioned yesterday and in some earlier blog posts, we need a greatly expanded, renewed, and updated mass transit infrastructure. Many cities are belatedly recognizing this, but are American comapnies benefiting from it? No, indeed. In fact, my husband, a rail enthusiast, tells me there are ZERO American companies manufacturing passenger rail cars and many other important components. Worse, since the Federal Government under the Republicans has been fixated on private automobiles and roads to the near-exclusion of all other forms of transportation planning and funding, cities have had to rely on private fund-raising and issuing public bonds to finance real mass transit. With the markets in turmoil, of course, nobody's buying.

New U.S. Streetcars A Boon to European Makers
Posted by: Tim Halbur
Thanks to: Reconnecting America
11 November 2008 - 8:00am

A surge in streetcar system construction in the United States is benefiting a number of tram builders like Siemens of Germany and Skoda of the Czech Republic.

...But the recent financial turmoil threatens the market. Cities and other local governments have been effectively shut out of the bond market. In October, at the annual gathering of the American Public Transportation Association in San Diego, California, discussions ran hot and cold.

'At one level, the gathering had the highest attendance ever,' said Boothe, who took part. 'At another level, as you talked to friends, everybody was looking at stock values.'"

It's incredible that Americans are technologically behind other countries in high speed rail and ordinary passenger rail, not to mention streetcar, trolley and tram systems. It's even more incredible that Congress, since the 1970s, has consistently let all transportation issues be dominated by Big Oil in spite of KNOWING that infrastructure needed to be put in place for the time when Oil Production would plateau and then decline. Nor is having public transportation be any sort of privately owned for-profit venture a good idea, either. We'd just end up with our transportation system working like our health care system - only for the wealthy. This is unacceptable.

Please write your newly elected congress persons (and the already existing ones, for that matter) and state in the strongest terms your support for government-funded non-profit electric mass transit systems of all kinds, and your opposition to those Congresspersons who still have their heads in the stand (or are still bought and paid for by big oil). In your community, join or support a task force that will draw up plans for streetcars and trolleys to every neighborhood in your community, and commuter rail or electric buses from your community to regional job centers. Nothing will change if ordinary people are not willing to get involved and take back control of their economic destiny.

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