The upheavals caused by COVID-19 have called into question everything about how our society plans for the future.
Legislators in Washington, DC and every state capital are struggling to rethink priorities and budgets. “Transportation as usual,” as with so many other things, is out the window.
This is an unprecedented opportunity for rail advocates to convince elected officials that passenger rail belongs on the list of environmentally-friendly projects to speed our economic recovery. But we have to get our priorities straight. There are a number of new high-speed rail lines in the works, like those in California and Texas, that will deliver tremendous benefits once they begin operating. While it’s essential that we continue planning for the implementation of these projects, we must recognize that they will take decades to happen and, by themselves, will serve only a few large metropolitan areas. How do we balance our approach to solving these pressing short- and long-term issues?
Given the circumstances, we must prioritize rail projects that can be implemented quickly. We need to make the most of existing infrastructure, provide service to more communities, and improve our transportation grid with useful connections to other modes, especially local transit. Building a new network of regional passenger rail services will help us put people back to work right now and lay a solid foundation for future high-speed rail.
Many such projects are in the works. Here are a selected few:
We Can Make it Happen
It won’t be easy, but with your help we can make our voices heard in Washington, DC and in state capitals throughout the country. Please consider donating to, becoming a member of, or volunteering for these passenger rail advocacy organizations:
- All Aboard Minnesota (AAMN)
- All Aboard Washington (AAWA)
- Association of Oregon Rail and Transit Advocates (AORTA)
- Colorado Rail Passenger Association (ColoRail)
- Louisiana Association of Railroad Passengers (LARP)
- Trains in the Valley (New England)
- Vermont Rail Action Network (VRAN)
- Wisconsin Association of Railroad Passengers (WisARP)
- Rail Passengers Association (National)