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THE CRISIS IN PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICE
- minor. Regardless of the source of funds for maintaining New Haven long-haul service, the planning initiative must therefore come from the Federal Government. This fact has already been recognized with respect to long-range plans, often involving exotic and untried forms of transportation, which cannot possibly be started for at least 5 or 10 years. But, on the record, the Federal Government seems content to let the demand for such service ebb away as existing facilities disappear in the face of plans to supply some such service once demand has languished.
Fifth, and most important, the question of which methods of transportation are subsidized, and to what extent, must pale before the essential question : what will happen if alternative forms of transportation must take over the New Haven passenger load? The key to this problem is in the New York area, whether or not this fact is recognized by the Governor of New York. New York airports are now so overcrowded that a cloudy sky can delay planes by an hour even on a Thursday night: on my last passage through New York, for example, one airline showed flights to all Western European points “on time” and flights to Boston, which involved connections with planes eastbound into New York, up to 2 hours late. The Port of New York Authority is struggling with the problem of whether to build a new airport, and if so where to build it in face of the fact that everyone wants an airport nearby and no one wants it really nearby. Communications of New England with the rest of the country depend on a decision which lies between the Port of New York Authority and the residents of, e.g., Morristown, N.J. The Federal Government must assume responsibility for the main structure of interstate commerce in the Northeast corridor—by rail, by road, by air. As long as the New York airport situation is still utterly nebulous, and as long as the Civil Aeronautics Board can, at will, cut New England airlines off from the rest of the country (in both the Northeast-Florida decision and the Northeast-IWA decision), then the Federal Government must either fill the vacuum it is helping to create or admit that it is abdicating its constitutional responsibilities with respect to interstate commerce.
These observations suggest: (1) Federal initiative with respect to the New Haven long-haul passenger service, at the very least in the form of Federal leadership in shaping the appropriate authority ; (2) with operating deficits, if any, to be split 50–50 between the Federal Government and the States served ; (3) with tax relief credited as State aid only as against some appropriate average standard of State taxes, and only if total tax relief is granted for passenger services; (4) with the maximum physical segregation of assets required for the New York commuter service from assets required for long-haul passengers; (5) with a time limit of, say, 5 years to permit blending the New Haven longhaul operation into a long-term plan for all forms of transportation in the Northeast corridor.
No one of the bills now before the Committee on Commerce contains all of these features. But each of them contains at least some of them.
Percentage distribution of revenues from rail freight originating or terminating
in the three southern New England States, 1960 From or to
Percent States West of Mississippi.
36.2 Southeastern States---
17.5 East North-Central States.--
Total of distant States..
74. 8 20.5 3. O 1.7