Response to "Logic Derailed" February 9
Had Bret Callentine ("Logic Derailed" 2/9/2010) done even a minimal amount of homework before commenting on the proposed 3C railroad service from Cleveland to Cincinnati, he would have known that the State of Ohio did not "all of a sudden" come up with the plan for this project just because federal stimulus money became available. In fact, the Ohio Rail Development Commission, some members of the legislature, and groups such as the Ohio Rail Passengers Association have for decades been promoting and planning for the restoration of rail passenger service on the 3C Corridor. Since the Ohio General Assembly has not provided a funding source for this and other non-highway transportation projects, the 3C detailed planning and implementation could not proceed until this new source of money became available.
Had Ohio, like the rest of the country, not been so lacking in foresight, this project could have been underway and in operation years ago, and we would now be in a position to move forward in developing the high-speed passenger rail network that Mr. Callentine professes to want. Of course, Mr. Callentine, like many other instant experts on this subject, decries the cost of the current project and calls instead for a much more costly high-speed system, without suggesting where for the funding for that would come from and complains that we cannot afford to build and maintain a much less costly system. Could we have a little logic and consistency here?
Mr. Callentine also makes the usual (and incorrect) claim of critics that driving is less expensive than train fare would be and a perfectly satisfactory means of transportation (except, that is, for those among us who are too old, too poor or too disabled to be able to drive their own vehicle). Ohio's shameful failure to provide adequate funding for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit and the other transit authorities in the state is another example of this callous and backward-thinking attitude. The use of pssenger vehicles, like all modes of transportation, is subsidized by taxes and other public dollars. It also is one of the prime sources of air pollution and contributes greatly to our dependence on imported oil.
It is sobering and depressing to learn, as was recently reported, that by the time the first high-speed rail line in the United States--eighty-four miles from Tampa to Orlando--might be completed around 2013, China will have constructed and have in operation forty-two high-speed rail lines. There are many more than than a, "half dozen or more bullet trains running in Eurpoe and the Far East," and the United States is being left behind in this area and in others, such as the development of alternate sources of energy. While China, Spain and other countries have been creating the transportation systems of the future and industries to support them that will be a source of exports and jobs, we think of progress as building the biggest and most expensive publicly subsidized professinal sports facilities in places like New York and Dallas. The country that built the transcontinental railroad, the interstate highhway system, and yes, sent men to the moon, now seems incapable of any bold or forward-thinking ventures.
Mr. Callentine makes some excellent suggestions as to how passenger rail might be made more accessible and usable. Unfortunately, they are combined with the usual rhetoric about how the government (that's us, remember?) is incapable of doing anything right, so why bother? Unless we can somehow get beyond the current situation in which the nay-sayers prevail on almost every issue and government action is regarded as unthinkable, the decline of a America that is already well in progress can only continue and accelerate.