FALL 2010 16
1 Sustainability, Basic Information, U.S. envtl. prot. agency, http://www.
epa.gov/sustainability/basicinfo.htm (last updated Sept. 20, 2010).
2 u.S. energy inFo. aDmin, pub. no. DOE/EIA-0035, monthly energy
review 120 (2010), http://www.eia.doe.gov/mer/pdf/mer.pdf.
3 Martin V. Melosi, The Automobile Shapes the City, automobile in am. liFe
anD Soc’y, http://www.autolife.umd.umich.edu/Environment/E_Casestudy/E_
casestudy1.htm (last visited Oct. 8, 2010).
4 See Car Pollution & the Cars Environmental Impact, livingSpace, http://
www.carenvironment.net (last visited Oct. 9, 2010) [hereinafter livingSpace].
5 See Sierra club, highway health haZarDS 6 (2004), http://www.sierraclub.
org/sprawl/report04_highwayhealth/report.pdf; livingSpace, supra note 4.
6 louiS p. cain, hiStorical StatiSticS oF the uniteD StateS, earlieSt timeS
to the preSent: millennial eDition Series Df927-955, 4-926 (Susan B. Gartner
et al. eds., 2006).
7 Lydia Boyd & Lynn Pritcher, Brief History of the U.S. Passenger Rail Indus-
try, DuKe univ. librarieS Digital collection, http://library.duke.edu/digitalc-
ollections/adaccess/rails-history.html (last modiﬁed Jan. 25, 2008).
10 cain, supra note 6.
11 Mark Reutter, The Lost Promise of the American Railroad, 18 wilSon q. 10,
13 bureau oF tranSp, national tranSportation StatiSticS 2010, table 3-29b:
tranSportation eXpenDitureS by moDe anD level oF government From own
entire.pdf [hereinafter national tranSportation StatiSticS 2010].
14 Lewis Mumford, The Highway and the City, in technology anD valueS:
eSSential reaDingS 361, 363 (Craig Hanks ed., 2010).
15 am. public tranSp. aSS’n, 2010 public tranSportation Fact booK,
11 (2010), http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/documents/factbook/
16 Jim Ostroff, Generation Y Giving Cars a Pass, Kiplinger (Sept. 14, 2010),
17 cong. buDget oFFice, the paSt anD Future oF u.S. paSSenger rail Service
27 (2003), http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/45xx/doc4571/09-26-PassengerRail.pdf.
18 amtraK , An Interim Assessment of Achieving Improved Trip Times on the
Northeast Corridor, 17 (Oct. 21, 2009) http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/Conten
tServer?c=Page&pagename=am/Layout&cid=1241245669222 (link to report:
Inside Amtrak, follow “Interim Assessment of Achieving Improved Trip Times
on the Northeast Corridor–PRIIA Section 212 (d)” hyperlink).
19 3C “Quick Start” Passenger Rail Plan, ohio Dep’t oF tranSp., http://www.
(last visited Nov. 2, 2010).
20 See generally trimet, community builDing SourcebooK: lanD uSe anD
tranSportation optionS in portlanD, oregon, (Dec. 2007), http://trimet.org/
21 u.S. gov. accountability oFFice, intercity paSSenger rail: national
policy anD StrategieS neeDeD to maXimiZe public beneFitS From FeDeral
eXpenDitureS 14-15 (2003), http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d0715.pdf.
22 Id. at 14.
23 DaviD ranDall peterman et al., u.S. cong. reSearch Service, high SpeeD
rail (hSr) in the uniteD StateS 14 (2009), http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/
25 See paul taylor et al., pew reSearch center, Denver topS liSt oF Favor-
ite citieS: For nearly halF oF america, graSS iS greener Somewhere elSe 14
26 Id. at 15, 19, 21.
27 Robert Fishman, The Fifth Migration, 71 J. oF the am. plan. aSS’n 357, 360
28 u.S. energy inFo. aDmin., supra note 2, at 120.
29 Stuart Ramsey & David Hughes, The Challenge of the Oracle: Optimizing
Transportation Infrastructure in a Changing World, inSt.oF tranSp. engineerS
J., Feb. 2009 at 69, www.transportplanet.ca/WriteTheChallengeOfTheOracle.
30 E.g. Habitats and Species Affected, center For biological DiverSity, http://
development/oil_and_gas/gulf_oil_spill/habitats_and_species.html (last visited
Oct. 9, 2010) (listing the damages caused to animals in the Gulf of Mexico
from the 2010 oil spill).
31 See marc humphrieS, u.S. cong. reSearch Service, north american oil
SanDS: hiStory oF Development, proSpectS For the Future 21 (2008), www.
32 bureau oF tranSp. Stat., tranSportation StatiSticS annual report 2008
94 (2008), http://www.bts.gov/publications/transportation_statistics_annual_
rail system will require continued ﬁnancial investment and polit-
ical fortitude. The United States is at a tipping point in regards to
its rail system. If the projects now planned and funded through
the American R einvestment Act63 are completed, the country’s
rail infrastructu re will be markedly strengthened , laying the
groundwork for future rail development. But if this opportunity
is lost and planned projects are not executed, passenger rail will
continue to be conﬁned to only certain cities and corridors, with
little hope of fulﬁlling its pote ntial role as a key component of
a mul ti-modal transporta tion system. Unfortunately, at a time
when the federal government is more willing to fund rail devel-
opment, many states have staggering deﬁcits that have rendered
rail a highly politicized issue. If rail, as w ell as other mo dal
alternatives, is not expanded, the auto-dependent transportation
system in the United States will become even less viable as its
population grows, its roads age, and the system’s lifeblood, oil,
becomes more expensive.
It is critical that the country begins to construct a more diverse
transportation system. In twenty to ﬁfty years, maintaining the
current transportation system will become more costly, and from
an environmental and economic perspective, increasingly less
defensible. Development of intercity passenge r rail will bring
similar positive changes that subways have brought to U.S. cit-
ies throughout their long history. Imagine what the quality of life
would be like today in Washington, DC if the city had not built an
extensive subway system some thirty-ﬁve years ago and reduced
congestion. The United States would beneﬁt from expanded rail
options to absorb some of the passenger load from roads and to
facilitate the transition to a transportation system less dependent
upon automobiles. It is also critical that rail does not stand on its
own; rather, it should be a component of a larger effort to cre-
ate a multi-modal transportation system. Rail is not a “magic bul-
let” that will solve the United States’ transportation and energy
woes, but it can be part of the solution to create a more sustainable
future. Fundamentally, passenger rail is worth investing in, not
only because it offers a means of reducing VMT, but because in
many cases it provides a better overall return on investment than
other transportation modes.
Endnotes: Rediscovering the Transportation Frontier: Improving
Sustainability in the United States through Passenger Rail
Endnotes: Rediscovering the Transportation Frontier
continued on page 61