Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Can We Get Started Sometime Soon?

Some Americans are so impatient. Nothing can come soon enough for them. We now have a federal administration which is keen on the advancement of mass transit and high speed rail and now we can't wait for such a system to arrive in all the small towns across the country. Lexington is one of those cities.

Lexington and Kentucky have not been in the forefront of innovation or execution of transportation by any stretch of the imagination. We have had to wait our turn for the latest thing to come down the pike.

Lexington was not the first city in Kentucky to have rail travel. This is probably due to the lack of population that would require such transportation and the lack of funds necessary to maintain a railroad. Many other cities were connected by rail before Lexington finally got in on the act. We are in similar shape today in relation to high speed rail and, by most accounts, even any type of regional rail. Mass transit is beneath most of the supposed well to do in Lexington, whether it be bus or rail.

The local proponents of mass transit, currently ours is a less than stellar bus system, can only dream of light rail and/or a regional commuter system. There are just not enough riders interested in such a scheme. Those of us who would propose such an idea are considered a radical fringe by some and crazy by others. Yet there are a growing number of us, right here in Lexington.

Like I said, we now have an administration unlike any that we have seen in the past 20 years. A Transportation Secretary who is trying to expand Amtrak and not kill it. A President who is not nominating board members that wish to shut down the only passenger rail left in America. A Vice President who actually regularly rides mass transit, when possible(and not to a photo op). We have a Senatorial Candidate with a regional rail plan. We even have a Federal commitment of funding for more transit projects over the next several years.

So why is all the national focus on High Speed Rail? Why are there calls for stylish terminal facilities to enhance the riders experience. Shouldn't America get to a brisk walk before we learn to run. We are starting to act like the socialite who dresses in the fanciest warm-up gear, just so that they can be seen being chauffeured to and from the gym without actually working out. Kentucky just needs to get going on pushing some sort of passenger rail.

I have touted Dr. Mongiardo's rail plan here before and I had hoped that he would come and explain it further. I now am told that he did come to Lexington, to a conference of Transportation professionals, back in January. I wish that he had made his presentation to a general audience rather than to an assembly which appears to most of us as being drug toward the future instead of leading the charge. I think that he would have found a much more receptive crowd to his plan, from people who want to use it instead of make a career off of it, from people who want to get somewhere on it instead of get rich off of it.

I don't want to sound impatient, but I do want to get started. Just some sort of a start.

1 comment:

D Morse said...

Agree, the focus on HSR is backwards. How about some good ol' HFB: High Frequency Bus.

You saw this, right?: