This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
Contrary to popular opinion, since the mid 1990s, we have seen an explosion in rail demand and service, primarily focused among commuter and short to medium intercity routes. From 1995 to 2005, commuter rail usage grew over 20 percent, from 352 to 423 million passenger trips. Over the same period, 421 miles of new commuter and light rail track has been built.
And yet, here in the Northwest, many continue to view rail as some kind of exotic boondoggle, despite the fact that the rest of America is interested in building more and more of it. Buses are not an acceptable alternative.
The article goes on to argue for a dedicated national rail funding source, and the dismantling of Amtrak’s long-distance coastal routes in favor of targeted investment in high-speed 100- to 500-mile routes, something I’ve long favored.