It may not have felt that way when you were stuck in traffic on the way to work this morning, but Americans love trains. Maybe not everyone, but millions of us do. I notice it on the blogs, where you can see the conversation perks up when someone posts about commuter trains or light rail. And with $4 gas, you see it in the packed cars every rush hour, especially in cities with an entrenched rail network like Philly, and you even see places in Sunbelt Car Heaven like Houston scrambling to add light rail.
Given all that, why do so many of our politicians still hate trains. Including John McCain.
Two stories this week have really driven the issue home. First there was this piece in the New York Times:
Today, the Inquirer tells us how bad Amtrak's infrastructure has been neglected:
Everyone in both parties at least pays lip service now to ending our "addiction to oil," and while there's nothing wrong with giving "Back to the Future"s Doc Brown $300 million for his retooled DeLorean, buying new rail cars and making sure that Amtrak doesn't crumble is something we know we can do right now, and get real results. That seems obvious -- but not to John McCain:
McCain's longstanding jihad against Amtrak is no secret -- except maybe to voters in the 2008 election. I was just searching around and found only a couple of recent articles, mostly in obscure places or in the British media, that mention the Republican's positions against funding rail. In fact, I'm a little surprised that the Obama campaign hasn't spotlighted this issue in Pennsylvania, since Amtrak has higher ridership here than anywhere else.
But these are the stakes. If you envision a future with commuters out of their SUVs and off the Schuylkill Expressway and onto rail cars, you're probably not picturing the McCain administration.