Response submitted to Financial Times, May 15, 2007

To the editor of the Financial Times, May 15, 2007—

Environmental issues were noticeably absent from your two May 14 articles on the Texas legislature’s vote to block new, privately-financed toll roads for two years. This paralleled your report, “US cool on climate change” (also May 14), which found European business travelers and thus their airlines more concerned about aviation’s environmental impact than their U.S. counterparts, since rail is a practical alternative for more European than U.S. business travelers.

Texas’s single-track rail system badly needs upgrading for passengers and freight. Intercity passenger service is skeletal—one train a day on one route, three a week on the other. But some prescient Texas legislators, notably San Antonio’s Ruth McClendon, are trying to push the state towards action on rail.

The legislature’s private roads moratorium will prove beneficial if it gives Texans a chance to change a transportation strategy that consists almost exclusively of public and private investment in highways, the most environmentally damaging form of transportation—and the least appropriate for a society whose average age is steadily rising.

Ross B. Capon, Executive Director
National Association of Railroad Passengers