Thursday, November 30, 2006 at 2:46 pm

Amtrak Should Lose Northeast Corridor: Report

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Amtrak logo The Northeast Corridor — the largely Amtrak-owned stretch of track from Boston to New York to Philadelphia to Washington, DC that also sees heavy use by commuter rail services — is too crucial an asset to be left in Amtrak’s hands. That, at least, is my impression of the conclusions of the Northeast Corridor Action Plan: A Call for a New Federal-State Partnership (PDF), a report by the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center that advocates transferring ownership of the corridor from Amtrak to a joint federal-state entity. Amtrak’s chronic underfunding means that the corridor isn’t getting the maintenance it needs; one might also add that the chronic financial crises the national passenger rail carrier suffers from on a regular basis puts the viability of the line in frequent jeopardy — i.e., if Amtrak shuts down tomorrow, what do the commuter agencies do?

Joseph Vranich argues, however, that the problem isn’t Amtrak’s underfunding — he thinks they’ve been funded enough, but that Amtrak has misallocated the resources — but rather that Amtrak spends disproportionately on long-distance lines at the expense of the high-volume, high-income Corridor.

Amtrak opposes the proposal; commuter agencies seem interested.

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