When President Biden unveiled his grand new infrastructure plan last week, the proposal included much more than fixing crumbling bridges. And for those who want America to have a more robust passenger train network, it gave them something new: hope.
The city’s $ 2 trillion infrastructure package has two provisions involving passenger trains: $ 85 billion. Dollars for the modernization of public transport (commuter trains, buses, stations, etc.) and 80 billion. Dollars to improve and expand the country’s passenger and freight train.
“You and your family could travel coast to coast without a single tank of gas aboard a high-speed train,” Biden said at the plan’s unveiling.
But the idea is not just good family trips – it is to use improved railway infrastructure and services to alleviate problems such as traffic and air pollution as well as improve access to jobs. Transportation is the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
“The U.S. job plan will build new railroads and transit lines, ease congestion, reduce pollution, cut commuting times, and open investment in communities that can be connected to cities and towns on the outskirts, where there are many jobs these days. It will reduce bottlenecks in trade in our ports and our airports, “said Biden.
The White House said rail investments would “tackle Amtrak’s repair backlog; modernize the high-traffic northeast corridor; improve existing corridors and connect new urban pairs; and improve subsidy and loan programs that support passenger, freight train safety, efficiency and electrification.”
Amtrak responded quickly with enthusiasm to Biden’s plan with a map and a vision of what an expanded US rail network would look like by 2035.
The proposed transformation would mean about 30 new routes and more trips on 20 existing ones. It projects 20 million more people earned than the 32 million who drove the Amtrak in fiscal year 2019.
It shows a number of potential new service lines: new railroads connecting all of Texas’ major cities and new connections across the Midwest, including between Cincinnati, Columbus, Ohio and Cleveland. In the Southeast wanted new routes extending from Atlanta to Chattanooga and Nashville, Tenn., Savannah, Ga., and Montgomery, Ala.
There would be service to any state in the cohesive United States, but South Dakota – a fact that drew Governor Kristi Noem’s anger that criticized the infrastructure package.
Amtrak says better rail service means “cleaner air, less traffic and happier people”, and points to inequality that results from the country’s current uneven train service: “Many of the country’s largest and fastest growing metropolitan areas with diverse populations do not have that rail service , they deserve. ”
Alex Wong / Getty Images
Cities like Houston, Atlanta, and Cincinnati currently have bare-legged Amtrak service with trains stopping only once a day and often in the middle of the night. Major cities, including Las Vegas, Nashville, Columbus and Phoenix, have no Amtrak services at all.
And the lucky bit? Amtrak notes that people in some cities spend more than 80 hours a year in traffic. “Population growth will make this much worse without better alternatives like rail,” it warns.
Around the country, local news went into what extended rail could mean for their communities.
“More direct train traffic between Raleigh and Richmond – and cities beyond. New passenger lines run to the North Carolina coast and to the state mountains,” Raleigh, NC’s That News and observer wrote.
“The prospects for a passenger lane connecting Baton Rouge and New Orleans got a boost this week,” he wrote. New Orleans Spokesmanand noted that the last passenger train serving Baton Rouge ended service in 1969.
“Amtrak may soon have cash to install a new rail line between Las Vegas and Los Angeles,” said The Reno Gazette-Journal said.
“President Joe Biden’s infrastructure improvement plan would bring the Amtrak passenger service back to Phoenix for the first time in decades,” NPR Member State KJZZ noted.
And on Twitter, people started posting the railroad lines they had like to see. As a direct route from Ohio to Florida.
Before anything can happen, an infrastructure bill must come through Congress. The House and Senate are both working on infrastructure bills, which are expected to include what the administration has proposed, but the process is still unclear.
For those eager for alternatives to the car, the historic proposal from a president known for his former daily commute from Amtrak from home in Wilmington, Del., To DC is what they have been waiting for.
“President Biden’s plan would revolutionize the way Americans travel, and eventually launch American passengers into the 21st century,” said Jim Mathews, president and CEO of the Rail Passengers Association.