Monday, January 19, 2009

Interurban Passenger Rail Good For Environment & Productivity

Today's Globe and Mail says that the federal budget's stimulus package should include a major investment in interurban passenger rail to improve the environment and productitivity. Most of the major media understand the significance and common sense need for interurban passenger rail to connect our communities. So why don't our public officials see the light? They just don't seem to get it!

The Globe and Mail thinks these federal infrastructure projects should go beyond simply replacing what we already have (aging infrastructure), and also that this stimulus spending should contribute to our environment and productivity growth.

"...these undertakings should contribute to productivity growth.

To be sure, some humdrum repair of infrastructure is called for. In many places, basics such as roads and water mains are showing their age. Often, the federal government will be best positioned to pay for the renovation of its own properties, so that it can see the work through.

But there are much more ambitious forms of infrastructure that go beyond replacing what we already have. The electricity grid, for example, should be much more resilient and flexible than it is now. In September, 2007, for instance, a storm in the U.S. Midwest deprived two-thirds of Saskatchewan of electricity. It can hardly be beyond modern technology to deploy alternative transmission routes quickly. 

Quite apart from the fact that improved access to electricity would also reduce dependence on carbon-emitting fossil fuels, reliable electric power enables people and businesses to produce more economic value.

Similarly, major investments in urban public transit and interurban passenger rail would be beneficial for both the environment and productivity."

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