May 11, 2009
Karen Rae Presents FRA's New Course
BY SUSAN R. PAISNER,Senior Managing Editor
Karen Rae, the new deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, spoke passionately about the future of rail—particularly high speed rail—at the latest presentation of “Transportation Tuesdays,” a series of after-work transportation discussions held the first Tuesday of the month at the APTA offices.
Repeating the mantra of “Failure is not an option,” Rae, with nearly 30 years of transportation experience, discussed FRA’s goal to ensure safe and efficient transportation choices for Americans. She made the point that in addition to the $8 billion in ARRA funding for high speed rail and the $8.4 billion for public transportation, President Obama is also authorizing $1 billion annual to continue investment in inner city and high speed rail.
Noting that high-speed rail must be linked with existing commuter rail—“it only works if it’s a network”—she asked: “How do we eventually make smart decisions that get the system performing at its best?” Congressional leadership reached out to FRA as soon after the Recovery Act funding was announced, she said, asking what they could do to advance this effort.
Rae emphasized: “The way this works best—and only works—is to include states, unions, transit agencies” and other stakeholders. When asked what such an inclusive system will cost, she made reference to the cost of building the interstate highway system and observed that the amount of money needed was always found, adding: “It will cost what it costs to get the end service that Americans deserve.”
At the end of her presentation and the Q&A that followed, Rae said: “We draw on passionate people who have good thoughts and good ideas, and we choose the best of those. Let me tell you, the work has just begun.”