Friday, January 9, 2009

Upstate NY Congressional Delegation Pushes for High-Speed Rail

The Upstate (New York) Congressional caucus has identified high-speed rail system across New York State as a top priority for federal funding, the Buffalo Business First newspaper reports. The caucus, which has 11 members, pushed funding for high-speed rail in a meeting yesterday with Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Caucus Chair Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, maintains high-speed rail development has the potential to produce the strongest return on any federally-funded investment.

“I know there are some mayors out there who want to use these federal dollars for new sidewalks and, while those are important, those projects are not really going to help or stimulate the economy. High-speed trains will. It’s time New York gets into this century when it comes to trains.”

Next week, caucus members plan to meet with New York State transportation officials and Amtrak to push the high-speed plan. New York and Amtrak have had a rocky road when it comes to high-speed rail. A partnership to allow trains to run at 125 m.p.h. between New York City and Schenectady came apart after Amtrak couldn't meet its financial commitments and the railroad stopped operating turbo trains that were rebuilt with state funds by Super Steel. Ironically, the state transportation commissioner at the time, Joseph Boardman, is now Amtrak's chief executive officer.

Rep. Slaughter said building a high-speed line would be easier than many people realize because additional tracks could be laid along the existing right-of-way. Amtrak trains in Upstate New York travel over the Water Level Route of the former New York Central System, which at one time had four tracks between New York City and Cleveland, but cut back to two tracks north of Croton-Harmon in the 1960s.

8 comments:

  1. Why would high-speed rail be better than taking an airplane or driving?

    It seems to me there is already plenty of excellent transportation infrastructure in NY and the AMTRAK financial report from 2007 (the latest one available as of 2/13/2009) indicates AMTRAK needed about $50.00 in subsidies for every passenger. It seems that a high-speed rail line would require at least that much subsidy and that is unreasonable to me...

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  2. Though gas prices are low, today it is due to the world wide economic down turn. once the economy improves world wide and supplies dwindle with India and China future demands will drive prices to a level that will make $5.00 a gallon seem like a deal. The EU where gas has been over $7.00 a gallon for years, high speed trains crisscross the entire EU and are used by all Europeans. There system is owned by there government like ours should be. We should build a world class high speed train system in New York so as the gas, prices raise and they will we (new Yorkers) can travel the state quickly. Trains are safer then autos and if you care about the air you children and grandchildren breathe, trains are the future. Freight can be moved so cheap. it will make our road safer. 18 wheelers cause 48% of all injuries and deaths on the roads according to US D.O.T and will lower the cost of moving freight that can be passed on to the consumer. The entire world in investing in trains. Let stop being pig heads and just pigs and demand a high-speed trains for our future conveyents and lower our transportation cost. Our love affair with the car is sick and it is making our children sick and makes slaves out of us. “Build it and they will come” you cannot compare our am track to day to what it will be with high-speed trains. Stop letting republican feed you lays. In addition, the middle class and the poor vote agents there own interest every time they are fooled spoon-feed lies about mass transportation. Do not be fooled by today’s low gas prices.

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  3. Here we go again, elected officials at federal, state and local levels agreeing. WATCH YOUR WALLETS!

    Now they want to spend $8 Billion on high speed rail between Albany-Syracuse-Rochester and Buffalo. Frankly what on earth for? How many people today travel between those cities and at what frequency. Any meaningful studies done by disinterested parties? Wouldn't NY be better off spending $8B (assuming we had it) on something affecting daily commuters anyway or paying down debt?

    The northeast High Speed Rail route - Boston-NY-Philly-Wash DC works successfully because each is s destination in and of itself and millions of people reside in each and move between them regularly. Not so upstate. And anyone who has been to the Rochester Amtrak station knows it is a deplorable and is unseemly and inconvenient in location. The rich and politicians will continue to use corporate and government aircraft anyway.

    Further, the analogies to the Erie Canal are laughable - the canal exists today at the mercy of NY Thruway toll payers who subsidize the rich and their pleasure boats. True, 200 years ago the canal boosted NY economy because NY WAS a key industrial and agricultural state then and there were no roadways nor railways. Not so today.

    If the oppressive fuel taxes and Thruway tolls were removed (as a generation of politicians once said), travel and transport between upstate cities would be far cheaper.

    So instead of helping, this “fast fail rail” proposal will sink us further in debt, enrichen legions of connected lobbyists and firms and leave a tool for politicians to featherbed for decades while NY upstate population continues to shrink.

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  4. The world is running out of oil. American supply has already peaked and we are becoming increasingly dependent on foreign sources such as Iraq. We are stuck in traffic, polluting the air we breath, and there is a very likely chance that our carbon emissions are a major cause of global climate change. There have even been studies that link auto-dependent lifestyles with obesity. Why are we doing this to ourselves?

    If we seriously want to stand up to the dominance of the auto-centric lifestyle that is wreaking havoc on our Earth, health, and built environment, we need to make serious investments in alternative methods of transportation. We need real mass transit that gives us the choice to leave the car at home.

    This November on the presidential ballot, there will be a choice for people living in the Sound Transit district: for about the price of 1 tank of gas a year (0.5 percent increase of local sales tax) you can get-

    -A 36 mile expansion of fast, efficient light rail service north to Snohomish County, south to Federal Way and across Lake Washington to Bellevue and Microsoft.

    -Staring in 2009, a 17% increase in express bus service across all three counties and up to 30% on the highest-demand routes

    -More and longer Sounder commuter trains between Lakewood, Tacoma and Seattle.

    -Strict independent audits and mandates that your dollars are invested in your community, not drained into projects you can't use

    The alternative? Spending how many billions of dollars on more polluting, sprawl-inducing freeways with the false promise of congestion relief? Saying it's too expensive and waiting for construction prices to go up before starting? No thanks.

    The time is now. support for green technology and a healthier life-style! Support mass transit!


    "Forget the motor car and build the cities for lovers and friends."

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  5. Mass transit, infrastructure must take priority

    The massive public works stimulus package planned by the Obama Administration has been sent up as a trial balloon that has left everyone wanting to know more. If it's all about building new roads at the expense of funding a revival of America's inadequate mass transit system or revitalization of our nation's crumbling infrastructure, we'd want to know less.
    Whatever the government is willing to do, in any form, has left the cash-poor and tax-light states drooling for action, especially if it's money that can be put to use immediately. That would leave items like road repairs and improvements like bridge reconstruction and remedial attention to the nation's aging power grid at the top of the list, priorities we have no problem with.
    However, also vying for attention are new roads projects -- think of the useless and wasteful U.S. 31 bypass -- that have been on the drawing board for years. According to Bloomberg.com, the financial Internet newswire, "states with a backlog of road building projects" such as the bypass are clamoring for stimulus money.
    Missouri, in a Bloomberg example, plans to spend $750 million in federal money on highways and zero on mass transit. Ditto Utah, which would funnel 87 percent of any stimulus spending it receives into new roads, and Arizona, to name just a few.
    We couldn't imagine anything more short-sighted and contrary to the national interest, especially at a moment in time when world oil production has peaked and America is at the mercy of foreign nations who are only too willing to sell the volumes of petroleum we need at premium prices.
    Now is the time -- in fact, it is past time -- to bite the bullet of energy independence, for this may be our last chance. The evidence is there for all to see how reliance on diminishing reserves of oil and gas had led America down the road to virtual bankruptcy. If we continue along this path, with gas and oil products becoming increasingly expensive and scarce we put our country further at risk.
    The current collapse of oil prices should fool no one. We've been here before. When prices at the pump recede, so does any incentive to implement the new energy sources we must develop and use. When gas is cheap, the public invariably loses interest in developing mass transit systems for our cities and out-of-the-way communities. Based on what we've heard from the president, we expect he will show some determination here, but then there is the Congress to worry about.
    With states facing such hard times, the pressure to fund new roads will be enormous. These projects will waste valuable time and money, speeding up the process of runaway urban sprawl that has been counter-productive in so many ways to the fabric of our society at all levels.
    We need existing roads, bridges and infrastructure improvements. We need funding for passenger rail service to encourage Americans to use alternative means of transportation. We need research and funding grants to develop new energy sources. These cannot be thrown aside for new roads that no one needs.

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  6. We've embarked on the beginning of the last days of the age of oil, a truth that many others in the petroleum industry knew but dared not utter. Over the past few years, evidence has mounted that global oil production is nearing its historic peak.
    Oil has been the cheapest and most convenient energy resource ever discovered by humans. During the past two centuries, people in industrial nations accustomed themselves to a regime in which more fossil-fuel energy was available each year, and the global population grew quickly to take advantage of this energy windfall. Industrial nations also came to rely on an economic system built on the assumption that growth is normal and necessary, and that it can go on forever.

    When oil production peaks, those assumptions will come crashing down.

    As we move from a historic interval of energy growth to one of energy decline, we are entering uncharted territory. It takes some effort to adjust one's mental frame of reference to this new reality.

    Try the following thought experiment. Go to the center of a city and find a comfortable place to sit. Look around and ask yourself: Where and how is energy being used? What forms of energy are being consumed, and what work is that energy doing? Notice the details of buildings, cars, buses, streetlights, and so on; notice also the activities of the people around you. What kinds of occupations do these people have, and how do they use energy in their work? Try to follow some of the strands of the web of relationships between energy, jobs, water, food, heating, construction, goods distribution, transportation, and maintenance that together keep the city thriving.

    After you have spent at least 20 minutes appreciating energy's role in the life of this city, imagine what the scene you are viewing would look like if there were 10 percent less energy available. What substitutions would be necessary? What choices would people make? What work would not get done? Now imagine the scene with 25 percent less energy available; with 50 percent less; with 75 percent less.

    Assuming that the peak in global oil production occurs in the period from 2006 to 2015 and that there is an average two percent decline in energy available to industrial societies each year afterward, in your imagination you will have taken a trip into the future, to perhaps the year 2050.

    But how can we be sure that oil will become less abundant? Petroleum geologists like Colin Campbell (formerly with Texaco and Amoco) point to simple facts like these: Oil discovery in the US peaked in the 1930s; oil production peaked roughly forty years later. Since 1970, the US has had to import more oil nearly every year in order to make up for its shortfall from domestic production. The oil business started in America in the late nineteenth century, and the US is the most-explored region on the planet: more oil wells have been drilled in the lower-48 US than in all other countries combined. Thus, America's experience with oil will eventually be repeated elsewhere.

    Global Discovery of OilGlobal discovery of oil peaked in the 1960s. Since production curves must eventually mirror discovery curves, global oil production will doubtless peak at some point in the foreseeable future. When, exactly? According to many informed estimates, the peak should occur around 2010, give or take a few years.

    When the global peak in oil production is reached, there will still be plenty of petroleum in the ground - as much as has been extracted up to the present, or roughly one trillion barrels. But every year from then on it will be difficult or impossible to pump as much as the year before.
    Mass transportation is a pice in a bigger puzzle, Americans need to face the hard truth. We need to spend billions in mass trasportation now instead of send our children to die for you to drive a car. Americans have a sick view of the auto. It is going to be our down fall. I realize not a lot of americans use masstrasportation today,but the last spike of $5.00 plus a gallon. Ridership on masstrasoptation went up by 30%. So lets build and they will come now is not the time to count pennes it will cost us many dollares in the near future if we egknor the woarning. Remember “We where warned”

    ReplyDelete
  7. We've embarked on the beginning of the last days of the age of oil, a truth that many others in the petroleum industry knew but dared not utter. Over the past few years, evidence has mounted that global oil production is nearing its historic peak.
    Oil has been the cheapest and most convenient energy resource ever discovered by humans. During the past two centuries, people in industrial nations accustomed themselves to a regime in which more fossil-fuel energy was available each year, and the global population grew quickly to take advantage of this energy windfall. Industrial nations also came to rely on an economic system built on the assumption that growth is normal and necessary, and that it can go on forever.

    When oil production peaks, those assumptions will come crashing down.

    As we move from a historic interval of energy growth to one of energy decline, we are entering uncharted territory. It takes some effort to adjust one's mental frame of reference to this new reality.

    Try the following thought experiment. Go to the center of a city and find a comfortable place to sit. Look around and ask yourself: Where and how is energy being used? What forms of energy are being consumed, and what work is that energy doing? Notice the details of buildings, cars, buses, streetlights, and so on; notice also the activities of the people around you. What kinds of occupations do these people have, and how do they use energy in their work? Try to follow some of the strands of the web of relationships between energy, jobs, water, food, heating, construction, goods distribution, transportation, and maintenance that together keep the city thriving.

    After you have spent at least 20 minutes appreciating energy's role in the life of this city, imagine what the scene you are viewing would look like if there were 10 percent less energy available. What substitutions would be necessary? What choices would people make? What work would not get done? Now imagine the scene with 25 percent less energy available; with 50 percent less; with 75 percent less.

    Assuming that the peak in global oil production occurs in the period from 2006 to 2015 and that there is an average two percent decline in energy available to industrial societies each year afterward, in your imagination you will have taken a trip into the future, to perhaps the year 2050.

    But how can we be sure that oil will become less abundant? Petroleum geologists like Colin Campbell (formerly with Texaco and Amoco) point to simple facts like these: Oil discovery in the US peaked in the 1930s; oil production peaked roughly forty years later. Since 1970, the US has had to import more oil nearly every year in order to make up for its shortfall from domestic production. The oil business started in America in the late nineteenth century, and the US is the most-explored region on the planet: more oil wells have been drilled in the lower-48 US than in all other countries combined. Thus, America's experience with oil will eventually be repeated elsewhere.

    Global Discovery of Oil Global discovery of oil peaked in the 1960s. Since production curves must eventually mirror discovery curves, global oil production will doubtless peak at some point in the foreseeable future. When, exactly? According to many informed estimates, the peak should occur around 2010, give or take a few years.

    When the global peak in oil production is reached, there will still be plenty of petroleum in the ground - as much as has been extracted up to the present, or roughly one trillion barrels. But every year from then on it will be difficult or impossible to pump as much as the year before.

    Mass transportation is a piece in a bigger puzzle, Americans need to face the hard truth. We need to spend billions in mass transportation now instead of send our children to die for you to drive a car. Americans have a sick view of the auto. It is going to be our down fall. I realize not a lot of Americans use mast transportation today, but the last spike of $5.00 plus a gallon. Readership on mass transportation went up by 30%. That was just a shot across our bow, So lets build and they will come now is not the time to count pennies it will cost us many dollars in the near future if we ignore the warning. Remember “We where warned”

    ReplyDelete
  8. I cant believe anyone is still arguing against high speed rail in NYS. These narrow-minded and short-sided arguments are the reason upstate is dead. The rails support tourism, commerce, and national security by lessoning our need for middle eastern oil. Bringing Toronto and Montreal into the concept would only strengthen it.

    Sadly, I can just hear the conservative hysteria at them mention of partnership with Canada. (those socialist foreigners.) Actually, maybe we should just forget it. Upstate deserves what it get....

    ReplyDelete