Letters to the Editor

Get on board

February 18, 2011


To the editor:

One of the things that makes Lawrence special is our historic buildings and neighborhoods. The depot at Seventh and New York is one of our crown jewels of modern architecture in Lawrence. It is eligible for listing on the Register of Historic Places. It is worthy of preservation. It is a gateway to our city, part of the infrastructure of a sustainable transportation system.

Directed by the City Commission, city management submits grant applications and pursues ownership transfer of the depot.

Amtrak is working to craft a policy allowing it to continue to be the responsible party for the ADA compliance upgrades to our station after the city assumes ownership. This move is prompted by the lobbying efforts of Depot Redux and the efforts of city management.

Depot Redux is a 501c3, not for profit, community organization with a board of directors and many paid members. In addition to its work with city management and Amtrak, Depot Redux volunteers supplement passenger services at the depot.

Fundraising efforts by Depot Redux members are promised once the city assumes ownership and receives matching grants. Citizens are more likely to support a campaign to rehabilitate the station if the city shows its support by accepting ownership.

This is a community project that requires collaboration of government, citizens, and Depot Redux. It is important to get on board before the train leaves the station (or in our case, the station leaves the train).


Richard Heckler 7 years, 4 months ago

Hear Hear...

Train travel will become more important as gasoline becomes evermore expensive. Why not take care of this existing resource?

Train travel is fun as well. No flat tires,car repairs,18 wheelers or crazy drivers. Just sit back and relax. Enjoy the club car,eating along the way and the dome car.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 4 months ago

"...The President’s High-Speed Rail Program Unravels

Despite the President’s continued enthusiasm for his HSR proposals, several major setbacks have occurred over the past year, including the realization by most Americans that they preferred to live in the 21st century, not the late 19th. In January 2010, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced that it would spend more than half of the $8 billion in the so-called HSR grants on for-profit freight railroads to benefit existing slow-speed Amtrak lines and proposed Amtrak-style service.

At the same time, as citizens of states receiving the money began to inspect the Obama plan’s cost estimates, travel benefits, and long-term subsidy obligations more closely, support for HSR began to wane, and gubernatorial candidates in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida who opposed or were skeptical about HSR won their elections. The new governors of Wisconsin and Ohio have since canceled their states’ programs, and the Florida program, one of only two real HSR programs funded by the FRA, is under review by the new governor. The California program, the only other real HSR proposal, will likely not be built because of its exceptionally high cost and California’s long-term, systemic fiscal crisis.

Despite Congress’s commitment of significant funding to the program and the President’s giddy excitement about an America transformed by an inefficient, inconvenient, and wildly expensive mode of travel, the President’s HSR program is in a state of collapse. The new Congress should put an end to what little life remains in this futile and costly exercise and use any recovered funds for deficit reduction....

Read the rest at http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/02/time-to-end-obamas-costly-high-speed-rail-program

Scott Drummond 7 years, 4 months ago

Strange that so many other countries consider high speed rail a modern convenience. They must all be wrong.

I suppose it silly to think the powerful road building, gasoline and automobile lobbies would agree to let citizens free from their noose. Nice to see the right wingers (again!) line up to take away options.

Will Mr. Boner be lecturing on the evils of earmarks as a part of this effort to kill jobs and innovation?

Flap Doodle 7 years, 4 months ago

When we have the population density of Japan, we will be able to afford HSR like Japan. Until then, not so much.

notajayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

"Strange that so many other countries consider high speed rail a modern convenience."

And about 90% (or more) of us were born Americans because our ancestors didn't want to live in those countries.

notajayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

"Or they wanted the opportunity for a better life."

Um, yeah. Which tends to imply they were less than satisfied with the 'worse' life they were willing to undergo tremendous risk and hardship to leave behind.

I think most people would agree that our forefathers were seeking freedom and the closely related ideal of self-determination. Those are traits that are a little more nearly aligned with personal transportation than with mass transit or public transportation.

And yes, opportunity for a better life. And the number one factor in increased motorization is: Wealth. Imagine that. In those countries our ancestors left behind, is the ownership of personal vehicles going up or down?

notajayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

"because I want to see if I can get a better one somewhere else"

Which, despite your protests to the contrary, implies you are less than fully satisfied with the one you make at home.

And when that trip to that new steak place for dinner comes even close to a tiny fraction of what my ancestors (most of whom arrived in the late 1800's) - or even your wife in more recent times - had to endure to pack up and move from one country to another, come back and we'll talk.

notajayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

"Unless you have definitive proof that every person who immigrated did so because they didn't want to live in their homeland... ? I didn't think so."

Gee, and I said "every"? Didn't think so.

Still having trouble with that little reading comprehension thing?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

Like nearly everything that Republicans are doing, the opposition to HSR is primarily about ideology-- trains and other forms of public transportation are seen as "socialist." So it doesn't matter if it makes sense. But it's also a maintenance of the status quo-- namely, the reliance on petroleum. Private autos and air travel are extremely energy inefficient, but that's good for the oil companies, as well as the defense contractors who get $trillions to keep the oil flowing. And what makes them happy drives the Republican Party.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

With all due respect to Ms. Moody and her organization, I don't think the depot building is any sort of architectural jewel.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

I'd agree that it's not as architecturally interesting as the original depot in that location (which was destroyed by the floods in the early fifties.)

But it is representative of the architectural style of the fifties, and while to our sensibilities, it may be uninteresting, folks fifty years from now may have a different view of it. And given that renovation would make it perfectly serviceable at a much lower cost than replacement, why not make it happen?

Getaroom 7 years, 4 months ago

When you get your own country you can do what you want and until then, you stay in Texas. You can stick to your horses and extended mags.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

No more subsidies than rail or air travel have received here.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

Correction: No more subsidies than CAR or air travel have received here.

notajayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

"No more subsidies than rail or air travel have received here."

There is nobody who pays for the roads that does not in some way benefit from the roads. The same can not - and never will be able to be - said about passenger rail.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

Argument by assertion, nota? That's OK, I know it's the best you can do.

notajayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

And you couldn't even come back with anything to dispute it, could you, boohoohoozo?

Which we all know is the best YOU can do.

David Klamet 7 years, 3 months ago

This statement is flatly untrue.

All of the following are logical consequences of an increased use of rail.

  1. More rail use means less oil used which means a reduction in demand and a corresponding reduction in price, or at least a reduced increase. Less oil used, which is cheaper than it would otherwise be, means lest cost.

  2. Fewer cars and trucks mean less road maintenance, and less taxes..

  3. Automobiles are the biggest sources of C02 and other pollutants I don't consider myself an environmental activist (maybe I should be), but that can't be bad.

  4. Lower car maintenance costs for everyone who has a car but uses it less.

  5. Money not spent on fuel and road building and maintenance could be (should be) spent on things beneficial to everyone.

Yes, a major shift in modes of transportation would have a huge effect on jobs. So did changing from horses to cars and every other significant technological innovation.

As to why rail projects are estimated to be so hideously expensive... I think I'll become a conspiracy theorist.

Bill Getz 7 years, 4 months ago

Where to you derive the statement that "the consumers didnt want it" in describing rapid transit programs abroad? France, Italy, Japan? They have debates about fare costs and adding more lines to unserved areas, but the systems themselves have enjoyed wide public support from the beginning among both Socialist and Christian Democratic constuncies, in Europe, at least.

Jimo 7 years, 4 months ago

I am unaware of any transportation system that isn't subsidized from the Erie Canal to public highways to the transcontinental railroad. Heck, even "privately" built and run toll-roads are the recipients of subsidies (however indirect).

And of course consumers wanted. That's why they voted it in. Usually with great enthusiasm (foreigners don't get the Fox Propaganda channel so they have a better grasp of reality).

(Perhaps you should get out of your basement more often?)

George Lippencott 7 years, 4 months ago

Wonderful, Ms Maynard-Moody will seek contributions (no promises) for the depot project after the city assumes responsibility for the depot. How about she and her group demonstrate the depth of support for this endeavor by raising those funds first. We can put them in escrow before we assume ownership and financial responsibility.

By the by, how can we have a charitable organization (money given is tax deductible at a time when we need all the tax revenue we can get) raising funds for a business property? I bet the current owners are laughing all the way to the bank.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

notajayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

"So tell us, what transportation systems in the U.S. weren't subsidized?"

But subsidized by WHO?

There is nobody who pays for the roads that doesn't get some use and/or benefit from them. Those who use them the most pay the most. That simply is not, and never will be, the case with passenger rail.

notajayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

I have a slightly different understanding of what a "subsidy" is. If everyone that pays gets a benefit, I don't consider that a subsidy. When I have to pay part of the cost of something that benefits you but not me, that is a subsidy.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

What you really mean is that if it's something you'll want to use, it warrants a subsidy.

And since trains are "socialist," you won't use them, so they shouldn't get subsidies.

Stephen Roberts 7 years, 4 months ago

Merrill - you complain about how much money is spent unless it is your pet projects.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 4 months ago

Passenger airline terminals are built by taxpayers.

Everyone benefits with free pat downs.

notajayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Generally with bonds that are paid back by airline gate fees. But don't let little things like facts get in the way of another pointless post.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 4 months ago

Indeed, taxpayer backed bonds are part of the overall funding structure used.

Also used as part of the funding structure is direct government funding, typically dedicated to "infrastructure".

None of which fits into your simpleton's world view.

notajayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Gee, no kiddin' little one, you mean bonds are often used to finance other public and mass transit options? You have such a knack for revealing these hidden operations in government that only those such as you are privy to and wise enough to understand. Why, the next thing you know bobbie will tell us all the sky is blue!

Nevertheless, little bobbie, there will always be those who refer to such bonds as government subsidies and use such deliberately misleading phrases (read: lies) such as "Passenger airline terminals are built by taxpayers." Then, when (as usual) their monumental ignorance is shown for what it is yet again, those buffoons will try to change the parameters of the discussion in a valiant, but sadly unsuccessful, attempt at making it look like they actually knew what they were talking about.

We were talking about passenger rail, little bobbie. That isn't funded with bonds, it's funded by tax dollars. And most of those tax dollars come from people who have never and will never ride a train.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 4 months ago

Tax dollars alone will not fund passenger rail. Nor has that ever been claimed. So you've accepted you were wrong on airports and you're making stuff up about passenger rail.

Why do you think you have to lie to make friends? Must be your pleasant always complementary personality.

Might wanna check tomorrow's paper, down in Wichita they take it one step further and use tax dollars to subsidize ticket prices.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

That's an interesting story.

About $5 million a year to provide lower airfares.

Hmm - how exactly am I benefiting from that, since I don't fly?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

And that $5 million is just an extra subsidy on top of all the other subsidies that air travel gets.

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