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Balanced Transportation System Needed

Viewpoint on need for a balanced transportation system.

By Doug Ohlemeier, Vice President, MOKSRail

The tragic events of September 11th have forever altered
the life we lead in this country. In many ways it has brought
us together and raise the level of patriotism to heights not
seen in a long time. It has made us realize that we must
change the way we live in this country. For some of us it
has renewed our effort to make people aware of changes
necessary in our transportation system.
  Ohle' riding in an Amtrak private room

Newspapers from around the country (but not too many broadcast media) have been filled with stories about the need for a good national passenger train system. The Philadelphia Enquirer Philadelphia Enquirer said: "Congress will have to begin treating Amtrak, the nation's passenger railroad, as what it is: an essential component of our national transportation system. A sound national transportation system has to support passenger rail--just as it supports the car and the airplane."

The Washington Post said: "Sustaining Amtrak has been a financial challenge since its creation 30 years ago, aggravated by the failure of Congress to define Amtrak's role and put sufficient money into it. During the lifetime of Amtrak, the government has put nearly 70 times more money into highways and aviation than into the train system."

The Denver Post said:
"Will it really make sense to spend two hours going through appropriate security procedures for a 45 minute flight? Even before Tuesday's attack, our desire to fly on journeys of less than 600 miles created congestion and delays, wasted energy and polluted the environment. Entrenched interests and unquestioned values have been major obstacles to providing the alternative mobility options that Europeans and Japanese take for granted."

Unfortunately there are still some in Congress that just don't "get it". They either are heavy supported by special interests groups associated with the highway industry or they are waiting until the Arabs shut off the oil.

Now is the time to let our congressional representatives know your concerns. In Kansas and Missouri, few senators or congressmen/women have taken strong stands for rail passenger transportation.

Please contact your representatives and let them know how important the future security and defense of our country depends on a balance transportation system that includes rail.

Thanks to Tennessee Association of Railroad Passengers for allowing me to incorporate this information into this column.

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