Last Friday (April 9, 2010) Louise Slaughter held a press conference at Rochester’s Amtrak Station along with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to officially announce the arrival of High Speed Rail to Western NY. In addition to the track improvements made possible by $151 million in federal stimulus money, Slaughter said Rochester’s outdated Amtrak station will receive modest updates to the building and platform. She also announced that Amtrak, Greyhound, and Trailways (who were in attendance) were committed to building a new multimodal station as a separate project. Also in attendance was WHAM 13’s Evan Dawson [firstname.lastname@example.org]. Dawson asked some tough questions. For example, “Who will subsidize the project?” Good one Dawson. Hey, does WHAM have any openings? I’d like to apply.
So this past Monday Dawson posted his commentary, High Speed Rail: Fast Forward, Not Fast Ferry… Right? It’s quite the masterpiece. The article points to a list of questions that he’d like answers to. But since he hasn’t found the answers yet… he’ll just assume that these upgrades to the nation’s rail system are unnecessary and will be the next “fast ferry”.
While I applaud Dawson’s quest to find answers to certain outstanding questions, I take issue with his use of metaphor. And since WHAM doesn’t allow user comments on their site anymore, I had to send him this email in order to let him know how I felt…
I was at the High Speed Rail press conference last Friday and I was pretty disappointed in your choice of questions for Congresswoman Slaughter. You asked what operational costs for HSR would be… Then you asked “Who will subsidize the project if that ridership projection is not met?” I thought you were missing the big picture when I heard the questions come out of your mouth. Then I saw your article on WHAM.com entitled “High Speed Rail: Fast Forward, Not Fast Ferry… Right?” and I now I see you’re missing more than I thought.
It is one thing to ask questions. It’s quite another to paint every public project as a “Fast Ferry” a.k.a. Doomed to Fail. This has very dangerous implications for our area. But I guess that’s the easy way for a Rochester “journalist” to catch people’s attention. LOOK OUT, FAST FERRY! I’m sure it works every time.
HSR is no fast ferry. The ferry was built on pure speculation. We tried it, it didn’t work, and we took a loss. That’s business and the city learned a lesson. Hopefully that lesson was ‘try harder and plan better next time’.
This nationwide project is about bringing the country’s existing transportation system into the 21st century AND for us, making sure that Rochester is connected to that system so we don’t get left in the dust.
So I’d like to know, where is your news story asking why the stimulus bill included $26,725,000,000 for highway infrastructure investments?
Why haven’t you asked the federal government why we still pay 80 to 90 percent of the cost for new highway projects regardless of whether or not those highways are actually needed?
Who pays for the upkeep of those roads? We all do… it doesn’t matter whether or not you own a car or you even use those roads. Roads, highways, buses, trains, even airlines and airports are all subsidized. But where’s your article entitled “Greater Rochester International Airport, Not Fast Ferry… Right?”
I know that you know that this project is about way more than fast trains. If you care at all about Rochester and our region I’d please ask that you think twice before using the fast ferry as a scare tactic. This town desperately needs to move on.
Tags: Amtrak, economic stimulus, Evan Dawson, Fast Ferry, federal stimulus money, Greyhound, high speed rail, New York, Ray LaHood, Rep. Louise Slaughter, Rochester, Rochester Amtrak Station, Rochester NY, Trailways, WHAM
This entry was posted on Thursday, April 15th, 2010 at 9:54 pm and is filed under Opinion, Rochester News, Transit + Infrastructure. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.