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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Tracking Listeners

Air Date: Week of

Our story about the proposed cuts in Amtrak funding prompted an outpouring from our listeners.


CURWOOD: And now, it's time to hear from you, our listeners. After our recent story on cuts in Amtrak, your many calls and letters ran about 50 to 1 in favor of spending tax dollars on US passenger rail service. Craig Surman of Worcester, Massachusetts, wrote that he usually doesn't think about driving's hidden environmental or social costs. "We make so many choices out of convenience or expedience," Surman says, "without long-term vision for rising cancer rates and a depleted environment. Thanks for making me think once more about the rails that sit idle in this country."

CALLER: Hello, this is Earl Bowie in Pensacola, Florida. I would be opposed to government subsidies for Amtrak. The transportation industry needs to be weaned away from government subsidies including the highway system, and there's no reason to compound the problem by also giving government subsidies to the rail system. Thank you.

CURWOOD: But Susan Naimark of Boston says she'd be willing to pay taxes to keep trains. "Aside from the environmental benefit," she writes, "the train is one of the rare places where people of all ages, races, and economic circumstances mix. We need more, not fewer, places where people mix and get along, despite the differences between us."

Ted Arthur of Salem, Oregon, also wants Federal funding for Amtrak. He recently completed a safety course for older drivers. He says, "The number one suggestion was to use other modes of transport. Need I say more?"

And Anne Oehlschlaeger of Laconia, New Hampshire, worries about a country without passenger rail. She recalls a train trip to Florida during a blizzard. "The airports were closed. You wouldn't have wanted to drive. We got to Washington, D.C., late but with lights, heat, and we got there. Couldn't have done it any other way."

CALLER: My name is Helen Heaton. I'm calling from Bozeman, Montana. The Europeans have realized for generations that trains are important to the transportation system of the country. How long does it take Americans to catch on? We're behaving like adolescents who want to do nothing but drive fast cars.

CURWOOD: And Amy Johnson of Albuquerque adds that the problem with Amtrak is that too little money is put into it, not too much.

Finally, from Baltimore, C. Allen Bush writes, "In adding up the cost of driving, we should include the damage to brain cells of freeway travel. Travel by train helps to preserve the mind for better things."



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