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.Q. CELEBRATES 20 YEARS !! RAILROAD VIDEO QUARTERLY - ISSUE #77


Fall 2011 Two Hours “Cr ipple Effect”: Challenges to Regional Railroads The Big Engine that Almost Didn’t


TRAIN FESTIVAL 2011 and Nine more subjects. Photo: Steve Barry


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RAILROAD VIDEO QUARTERLY - ISSUE #78 Winter 2012 Two Hours


Photos: Mike Noonkester A Tea Party For Transportation?


OUR TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMis de- teriorating, more quickly than many Ameri- cans realize. The highway has always been there, the city streets, the commuter trains, the light rail, the freight trains that bring us almost everything we depend on just for dai- ly living. They’re always around, so they al- ways will be, right? Don’t count on it. Every human being in America depends


on transportation — rail, mass transit, high- ways. Take them away and we’re back to the 18th century. But what if you were told that in the not too distant future, you may not be able to take such essentials for granted? That’s how bad it’s getting to be, accord-


Winter on the Strasburg,


B&M and Rotaries on Donner Pass. "Cardinal" dome and cab ride, and more!


WINTER 2012 MANIFEST - ISSUE #78


1. PULL HARD! STEAM WHISTLE FESTIVAL, YOUNGSTOWN


2. TOYS FOR TOTS AT CLEVELAND ROUNDHOUSE


3. AMTRAK FALL JOURNEY- CAPITOL LIMITED & CARDINAL DOME (Night cab ride on #51; Kanawah River Terminals veteran diesels)


4. RED CABOOSE MOTEL-STRASBURG 5. WINTER RECREATION OF THE "VIRGINIA CREEPER"- N&W 475


6. CP HOLIDAY TRAIN - COLORFUL WINTER CONSISTS ON D&H LINE


7. BOSTON & MAINE PLOW TRAINS AND WINTER ACTION


8. ROTARIES ON DONNER - WINTER 2011


9. "WESTBOUND LIMITED" - 1937 FILM EXCERPTS


10. LAST DAYS OF GREEN BAY & WESTERN ALCOS - 1993


11. N-S F-UNIT AND STEAM SPECIALS, #630


12. ODDS AND ENDS


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16 APRIL 2012 • RAILFAN.COM


ing to Frank Busalacchi, one of the nation’s foremost transportation experts. He is also Chairman of the American Crisis in Trans- portation (ACT), with Washington consul- tant John Boffa as Executive Director. They are in the process of gathering a coalition to do something about it. In an interview with this column, Busalacchi envisions a trans- portation tea party, if you will.


Okay, But “Tea Party?” “We need to educate and convince the aver- age American” of the urgency, according to Busalacchi. “Nobody’s going to make a move unless the voters start screaming about it.” Furthermore, “the Tea Party is a good ex- ample of [how that works],” adds the former Wisconsin Transportation Secretary. “They were a group of people who became very ac- tive through the internet and they educated people that were listening, and guess what?” Answer: “A bunch of congressmen got


elected. They [Tea Partiers] became a force in Congress. We need to educate the American public,” and Busalacchi adds the public needs to know how transportation gets funded. We all take for granted — barring a pow-


er interruption by Mother Nature — that when we flick the light switch, the light will go on. Similarly, we assume the highway or the train will always be there when we need it. “I mean you can walk into a rail station and ask them how this stuff gets funded — and they couldn’t tell you. You have politi- cians who couldn’t tell you how it gets fund- ed,” says this transportation authority. That’s where a popularly galvanized transportation tea party comes in, as envi- sioned by Frank Busalacchi who was Wis- consin State DOT secretary before the polit- ical winds shifted in the Badger State, and his boss, the then governor, was retired. Mr. Busalacchi now heads the Transportation Department of Milwaukee County.


Remember Him? If the name rings a bell with our longtime readers, Busalacchi was a member of the 2006-2008 National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission (NSTPRSC). It was in that capacity that he and the late Paul Weyrich took leading roles on the majority two-thirds of the commission membership that bucked the all-highways all-the-time minority mindset of then Feder-


al DOT Secretary Mary Peters. It is that pan- el’s proposals that ACT now recommends. As R&R regulars will remember, this col-


umn broke several stories on the internal commission splits that manifested them- selves behind closed doors. ACT’s effort to resurrect its leading proposals in 2012 will probably revive all of those bitter controver- sies. We discussed some of the ideas with Busalacchi.


Freight Rail The NSTPRSC noted that $148 billion from all sources will be required for freight rail up to 2035, and that $130 billion of that would come from the Class I railroads. However, the report goes on to cite the AAR (Associa- tion of American Railroads) which says only $96 billion is likely to be generated by the railroads in gross earnings, leaving a gap of $39 billion. Does that mean the freight rail- roads would have to rely on gas tax revenues or some other public source? “They’re going to have to,” is the answer, “I mean, I don’t see how they can operate without it [espe- cially if] fuel costs keep going up.” Speaking for the freight rail carriers, the


AAR pointedly reminds us, “Unlike trucks, barges, and airlines, America’s privately- owned freight railroads operate almost ex- clusively on infrastructure that they own, build, maintain, and pay for themselves.” What the railroads seek from the federal government are: 1) Reasonable regula- tion — “Policy-makers should reject calls to return to a time when Washington ran America’s railroads.” 2) Corporate Tax Re- form — An issue very much in the arena of general discussion these days. And then. . . 3) Public-Private Partnerships. “Public-


private partnerships allow governments to expand the use of rail while paying only for the public benefits of a project. Freight rail- roads pay for the benefits they receive. It’s win-win for all involved,” reads AAR’s policy statement. The AAR laid out this agenda a few years


ago at a news conference which we covered at the time. Since then, there has been no definitive settlement on how you slice up which benefits are public and which are pri- vate. As with most big ideas on Capitol Hill, this one apparently is destined to marinate itself (slowly) in the political whirl until a decision finally comes into view. Busalac- chi’s ACT aims to push that along into the public square.


Passenger Rail Mr. Busalacchi advocates more high-speed passenger trains, though a few days before our interview, President Obama — for the first time in his presidency — failed to mention that vision in his annual State of the Union ad- dress. The White House did, however, release a document where HSR is included. Busalacchi in his interview with us says


sooner or later HSR will be a reality, “up- wards of 200 m.p.h.” he believes. That in- cludes the Northeast Corridor (with


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