• Biden administration: "Build Back Better" and transit

  • General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by mtuandrew
I know the election hasn't been fully decided yet - the electoral college hasn't voted, though it's very hard to imagine him not earning at least 270 votes even with extremely unfavorable court decisions. That said, the Biden-Harris administration has started rolling out their transition plans and priorities, which include a heavy emphasis on infrastructure. One thing that struck me was this paragraph listed under "Climate change":
Transit: Provide every American city with 100,000 or more residents with high-quality, zero-emissions public transportation options through flexible federal investments with strong labor protections that create good, union jobs and meet the needs of these cities — ranging from light rail networks to improving existing transit and bus lines to installing infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists.

With the caveat that Biden may have an unfriendly US Senate, Federal court system, and some state legislatures & executives, I'd like to discuss this. Gilbert B. Norman started a topic specifically about how this will affect Amtrak, so this can reflect broader American rail transit.

The usual disclaimers:
  • No flaming.
  • Specifically, no political flaming.
  • in fact, let’s leave the election out of it.
  • Base your posts in facts - Biden isn't going to magically build 50,000 miles of HSR in his first year, nor will he be "railroaded" out of town.
  • Conspiracy theories of any variety will earn a referral to site management.
  by Literalman
If it really means "ranging from," that indicates that light rail is one end of the spectrum, with, I guess, no heavy rail or commuter rail considered. Or maybe it should have said "such as" instead of "ranging from … to." Anyway, the statement is really just an idea. We'll see what's in the President's Budget and then what Congress does with the budget. My feeling is that there are both Democrats and Republicans for and against transit, but not many who are strongly one way or the other. Or, as happens so often, I could be wrong.
  by Ken W2KB
President-elect Biden has chosen the members of his transition team charged with reviewing Amtrak and some other transportation entities/regulators. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) CEO Phillip A. Washington has been selected to lead the team. Other members of the team are: Dave Barnett, United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters of the US and Canada.
Austin Brown, University of California, Davis.
David Cameron, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Florence Chen, Generate.
Brendan Danaher, Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO.
Paul Kincaid, The Association of Former Members of Congress
Gabe Klein, Cityfi.
Jeff Marootian, District Department of Transportation (Washington, D.C.).
Therese McMillan, Metropolitan Transportation Commission (California).
Brad Mims, Conference of Minority Transportation Officials.
Robert Molofsky, self-employed.
Patty Monahan, California Energy Commission.
Mario Rodriguez, Indianapolis Airport Authority.
Mike Rodriguez, Texas A&M University System (retired).
Nairi Tashjian Hourdajian, Figma.
Polly Trottenberg, New York City Department of Transportation.
Vinn White, State of New Jersey.
https://www.railwayage.com/regulatory/b ... annel=news
  by John_Perkowski
Admin note:
Moved to General Discussion Passenger Rail.

This is far broader than Amtrak.

Be nice. El Jefe can lock this faster than you can say Tad Dunville.
  by David Benton
My question as a foreigner , what does review mean ?
Figure out budget requirements , current performance, and future policy directions?
I imagine the main thing to work out is how much money to allocate to each department , fine tuning to follow.
I don't know how much financial info the incoming party has access to before the Electoral college votes , and the actual take over date, one imagines the aim is to "hit the ground running" .
  by electricron
They got everybody on the transportation team except railroaders, airlines CEOs, shipping magnates, and businessman who make the various vehicles. 3 union chiefs, and 3 metropolitan transit heads, past members of Congress, and a few university professors would not be my first choice to make up a team on transportation.
  by John_Perkowski
One fast way to see this thread locked, if not deleted, is to use loaded language.
"The swamp" is an example of loaded language.

We're watching.
  by Jeff Smith
John_Perkowski wrote: Wed Nov 11, 2020 2:09 pm Admin note:
Moved to General Discussion Passenger Rail.

This is far broader than Amtrak.

Be nice. El Jefe can lock this faster than you can say Tad Dunville.
Who me? :wink:
  by CarterB
I will be willing to bet that a Biden admin would look to enhance corridor services only. LD trains are not a priority.
  by eolesen
I don't see anything big happening for transit or Amtrak. As it looks right now, the balance of power in the House is too fragile (looks like 214 seats for the GOP vs. 221 for the Dems), and there are far bigger national priorities.
  by Jeff Smith
Good points. It's going to be about spending priorities. These are the political issues (without any hyperbole': TAKE NOTE!):

-We have a crushing national debt and deficit that's a concern.
-In the House, you'll have a slim (or slimmer, anyway) majority for the Democrats, so the progressives (aka the "Squad") will want to exert their influence, and the GOP will be more emboldened to push back. Not everything in the House is party line, either. Most Representatives are likely to vote their district tendencies. Many Democrats may be rattled by losing seats and the close margin.
-In the Senate, there's still no idea of who will win the two Georgia runoffs. The "D's" must win both seats, the "R's" must only win one. It's going to be slim no matter what.
-That means a lot of issues will have to be worked out in conference committee. Pelosi and McConnell aren't exactly simpatico, but with Biden instead of Trump in the White House, you may see more cooperation.

So what does this mean for rail? Well, again, it's spending priorities and keeping all the factions happy.

Amtrak is a drop in the in the bucket that is the federal budget. My hunch is that in the horse-trading that will occur, Amtrak will benefit because that's what Biden wants. The states will benefit, because that's what the "D's" want, which means bailouts for local transit.
  by David Benton
Record low interest rates may negate the deficit /national debt worries. ( I don't think I saw debt even mentioned in the election campaigns). My feeling is that worldwide the trend is for using infrastructure spending for stimulus purposes is at least acceptable at the moment.