President Biden on the climate benefits of trains: “This is a fact.”
With a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in transformative technologies on the line, President Biden gave a big shout-out to trains yesterday.
“I am the most railroad guy you’re ever going to meet,” Biden said, speaking outside of an electric trolley museum in his hometown of Scranton. “Guess what—if you can get in a train and go from here to Washington much faster than you can go in an automobile, you take the train. We will take literally millions of automobiles off the road. Saving tens of millions of barrels of oil. This is not hyperbole. This is a fact.”
The Build Back Better legislation is being hammered out in Congress. A House-passed version of that bill (sometimes called the “reconciliation” bill) contains $10 billion in dedicated funds for high-speed rail. A separate infrastructure bill (passed by the Senate but not yet the House), contains $66 billion over five years in funding for passenger rail. HSR corridors would be eligible for about $12 billion of the funds. It also contains $39 billion for public transit.
Details of the Build Back Better bill are still in flux. This week is critical. The $10 billion for HSR may or may not make it into the final legislation. Votes on both bills are expected soon.
With the transportation sector accounting for more greenhouse-gas emissions than any other part of the U.S. economy, creating sustainable alternatives to the status quo becomes more urgent every day. The climate crisis is forcing our hand. We need to act.
Tell them you want electric, zero-emissions trains that run on 100 percent renewable energy. Tell them you support the maximum possible level of investment in passenger trains, transit systems, and HSR in the bills moving through Congress.
Trains go to the heart of our climate-change challenges. They’re not only way more energy efficient than cars and planes. They encourage development around stations—which boosts land values, builds wealth, and promotes thriving urban centers.
As Biden said, this is not hyperbole. This is a fact. It’s time our policymakers give trains the priority—and the funding—they deserve. We can’t afford not to.
Again, please contact your representatives today.