Over at the Boston Globe, columnist Derrick Z. Jackson does an excellent job of highlighting John McCain’s beef with Amtrak:
For years, McCain, in the comfort of cheap gasoline for autos and airplanes, made Amtrak a personal whipping boy. Despite the fact that governments in Western Europe and Asia zoomed far ahead of the United States by supporting high-speed trains to relieve congestion, promote tourism and now as we are coming to know, save the planet, McCain has spent considerable capital in denying the passenger rail system the capital to modernize.
Among his Amtrak transgressions: Halting $10 billion in capital funding for Amtrak as chair of the Senate Science, Commerce and Transportation Committee in 2000, calling it an example of government waste. In 2006 he voted against a measure that would have restored $550 million in funding for Amtrak for the 2007 budget.
In fact, he’s long said he’d like to abolish Amtrak and turn passenger rail entirely over to the private sector. He’s actually promised that if he’s elected president, shutting down Amtrak would be “a non-negotiable issue.” Without being able to abolish it altogether, over the years, he’s settled for doing all he can to make sure that Amtrak is underfunded enough to remain “the albatross blocking the development of a program that actually meets the needs of the traveling public,” as Jackson points out.
There’s a whole section on his website titled “Taking Action Now To Break Our Dependency On Foreign Oil By Reforming Our Transportation Sector” — without a single mention of public transit. As gas prices soar and citizens flock to mass transit, McCain might find some trouble with this positioning.