12.10.16

JUST CALL IT GOVERNMENT FAILURE.

Trains Magazine's Fred Frailey is dismayed with the slow implementation of positive train control by the Passenger Rail operators.
The spectacle we now have is that the freight railroads have spent almost $7 billion of their dollars diligently inventing and implementing PTC technology, while at least three of the nation’s largest commuter-train railroads haven’t really done a damn thing. I’ll stop here to credit Amtrak with implementing its version of Positive Train Control on its own Northeast Corridor trackage, and between Philadelphia and Harrisburg. And I’ll tip my hat to the politicians in California who provided the funds for Metrolink in Los Angeles to do the same—Metrolink, of course, being the entity whose own disaster prodded Congress to act in the first place eight years ago.

But what of Metra in Chicago, Jersey Transit, and Metro-North Railroad in New York and Connecticut? As I said, not really a damn thing. Illinois is broke, and New Jersey close to it. New York and Connecticut are stressed out as well. And appropriating scarce capital dollars for huge technical projects that neither politicians nor journalists can explain clearly is something of a non-starter when you’re competing against all the other uses of public dollars. Ask the average Joe or Jane in Newark or New Haven or Cicero: Do you want PTC or more cops and more meds for grandma? Your choice. Guess how they’ll reply?
I bet they won't reply, "Raise my taxes."

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