In “Buttigieg would bring his agenda and Biden’s to Department of Transportation,” the focus is on highways and vehicle taxation [Dec. 15, Nation]. But transportation is much more than highways for cars and trucks. Railways should be a big part of the picture.
President-elect Joe Biden and his DOT nominee Pete Buttigieg are train buffs: “Amtrak Joe” rides commuter trains from Delaware, and Buttigieg discovered the railroad in his college days on the East Coast.
Trains are by definition more fuel- and emissions-efficient because they require one-third the energy that trucks and cars do. That’s the simple physics of steel wheels on rail. Trains can also be electrified by overhead power lines — an advantage over battery-powered electric vehicles because producing all the batteries required by EVs will further harm global communities where the metals are mined. Battery recycling and disposal are problems not adequately solved.
High-speed “bullet” trains are a long-term solution because they require new land purchases. Consider “higher” speed rail instead: It can be built on existing train corridors quicker and for much less money. “Higher” speed rail can be used for freight as well as passengers — a boon for farmers and manufacturers.
Mary Cogan Paterson, Seattle