In Which I Surprisingly Agree With Tom Coburn

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5 Responses

  1. Pat Cahalan says:

    But David, think of the children!

    The one child that might die as a result of a transit accident! He could have been in a car, where he wouldn’t have died *from the train accident*!

    Think of all the distress of the mothers who see news reports with derailed trains and wreckage! It’s so much more psychologically stunning than the auto wrecks that you drive past in traffic!

    Idiotic blathering aside, +1 to the post. Sensational accidents don’t make good drivers for reasonable safety economics. Of planes, trains, and automobiles, the automobile is far and away the least safe alternative. If we’re going to try and make transportation more effective and safe, start there. Not with trains.Report

  2. Will H. says:

    Not so sure that would naturally follow.
    One of the things in my area that makes rail travel an inconvenience is that most of the tracks are leased from coal carriers (in some cases, the mines own the railroad, and thus the track).
    So, there are times when the rail car has to pull off to let the coal carrier past. The passenger train is always very small compared to the coal train.
    Of course, the coal train could have been pulled off earlier to allow for the passenger train, but that would have required a bit of coordinating.
    But for the two or three passenger lines running through a major metro every day, the time it takes to switch the coal cars out of line would take too much money– might even make the production of coal non-profitable– and God only knows we would hate to see the coal companies run by 501c’s.
    So, they have to have some kind of tax break. (It’s the Republican answer to everything! Seriously, this is why Viagra use is higher among Democrats– all the Republicans need is a tax cut.)
    Anyway, the freight carriers get their tax break to keep them out of 501c. Coal is profitable once again!
    Then comes the environmental protests. Someone decides that the retarded tree frog can’t mate properly unless the rail cars zipping through are done in more neutral colors– nothing too splotchy, but stripes are ok.
    Then the Tea Party will take notice. There will be terrible video shot from cell phones played on national tv.
    It’s a whole bag of worms.Report

    • David Schaengold in reply to Will H. says:

      @Will H., I don’t think there are any systems classified as heavy rail transit that operate on the same tracks as freight rail tracks (though there is a light-rail line in PA and NJ, I think). The problem you make note of is indeed a significant one for inter-city rail, but that’s already regulated by the FRA. This bill concerns systems like the New York Subway, Washington Metro, Boston T, and the like.Report

  3. Rufus says:

    When this subject comes up, I think of the decommissioned New York Central Terminal in Buffalo, which was perhaps always too large, but still has really impressive architecture:

    I visited the station last year when they were shooting a low budget horror film there and was surprised to find that the building itself has been largely renovated by a local historical society and many of the tracks are still used for freight. It’s only the platform that’s rotted and an adjacent mail building, which could really be torn down. It occurred to me that, if Buffalo ever got the long-desired business boom they keep expecting, they could add light rail service without a great deal of money or effort. I would be surprised if there weren’t other U.S. cities in the same situation.Report