HSR in New York Advances; Honolulu Transit Tax Under Threat

HSR Between New York, Albany, and Buffalo Gains Support From a New Senator

New New York U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D), who was appointed by Governor David Paterson after Hillary Clinton resigned to become Secretary of State, has declared her intentions to push for high-speed rail in New York State. Ms. Gillibrand met yesterday with Ms. Clinton, Mr. Paterson, and Senator Chuck Schumer (D) to discuss their priorities for the state, and Ms. Gillibrand excitedly told the press that all four were ready to work towards better rail in the Empire State. According to the Village Voice, she said “One area that we all agree on is that we really want high-speed rail,” excellent news for New Yorkers whose Upstate congressional delegation has recently been fighting to push the issue to the front burner.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D) told the Niagara Gazette that high-speed rail was the top priority for that delegation, and that they have already met with congressional and federal leadership about the issue. Considering New York’s large population, relative ease of connecting its major cities (they’re all aligned along a single route), and economic dynamism, high-speed rail seems perfect there. Ms. Slaughter also addressed the question of what exactly she meant by “high-speed” and answered 200 mph… eventually. This is a better response than the usual 110 mph, which is hardly fast at all.

Can New York expect a California High-Speed Rail-type project, with 220 mph trains, on its horizon? We’ll have to see, but the first question that has to be answered is where the money is going to come from.

Honolulu Transit Tax May be Used for General State Needs

Honolulu passed a popular referendum for a 20-mile long light rail system, running the length of southern Oahu just last November, but the transit tax that would pay for the system’s completion is already under threat. The Star-Bulletin reports that Hawai’i Senate President Colleen Hanabusa has proposed using transit tax revenues to shore up the already under-threat state budget. The 1/2-cent excise tax has been around since 2005. But she’s been met with significant opposition from recently re-elected Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who has been one of Hawai’i’s biggest proponents of the rail mass transit system. Mr. Hannemann argues that it would make little sense to delay the rail project, considering that its construction would in itself serve as an economic stimulus. Read more about it on the Say Yes to Honolulu Rail System Blog.

1 Comment | Leave a Reply »
  • anonymouse

    New York doesn’t need a dream of 220 mph “eventually”. It needs 125 mph electrified mainlines now. Heck, even a few million can go a long way. Building high platforms at Rhinecliff and Hudson would cut dwell times and eliminate the hold-out rule at Hudson. Fixing the cut under the GWB would eliminate an annoying speed restriction. A fourth track at Albany would significantly improve operations there and cut delays, and lengthening the platforms would make things easier for the Lake Shore. Maybe it would be worthwhile to re-work the track layout around the station for higher speed. Double tracking Albany-Schenectady would help cut delays, as would more passing track on Metro North. Improving reliability would actually make for faster schedules, since padding could be cut out. And all of it is probably less than $100 million all together, hardly very much in the grand scheme of transportation funding.

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