Wednesday, August 27, 2008

LSJ: Walberg Wrong On Amtrak

As officials in Jackson discuss a high-speed rail system to Ann Arbor and Detroit, it's important to remember Congressman Tim Walberg's previous positions on funding public transportation. After voting against a public transportation investment bill and a bill to reauthorize and fund Amtrak, can Jackson County expect his support for a commuter rail system?

With all of this in mind, the Lansing State Journal took Walberg and Republican Congressman Mike Rogers (MI-08) to task today for their anti-Amtrak votes.
More people in Michigan are taking to Amtrak trains to get around. Ridership increases from October 2007 to July 2008 ranged between 5.9 percent and 7.2 percent on the three lines in the Great Lakes State.

But Michigan wouldn't have three Amtrak routes had state government not struck a deal with Amtrak to subsidize those routes a few years back. For the coming fiscal year starting Oct. 1, Michigan again plans to pump $7.9 million into Amtrak service to mid-Michigan, among other places.

Yet mid-Michigan Congressmen Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, and Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, voted against a federal Amtrak funding bill in June.

Talk about working at cross purposes.
Rogers, Walberg and the rest of Congress should continue to seek rail reform. But it does not serve Michigan's interests to be voting against Amtrak in the meantime.
The editorial (rightly) points out some of Amtrak's flaws, but they make a strong case that voting "no" on Amtrak without a viable alternative in mind makes no sense. Since Tim Walberg has yet to offer anything besides an oil company give-away energy plan, I very much doubt that he had reform on his mind when he voted against Amtrak.

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