Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Essential Service

Todays New York Times has an article about the federal government's Essential Air Service, which spends $100 million a year on subsidies to small airports, spending on average a hundred dollars per passenger. One such airport is in Plattsburgh, NY. Never mind that Plattsburgh is 30 miles from Burlington, VT, and 65 miles from Dorval. The military spent a huge amount of money converting an old base into a commercial airport (with free parking!) to "revitalize" the local economy, after lobbying by Senators Clinton and Schumer.

Imagine if the government had taken all that money and spent it on upgrading the train tracks between Albany and Montreal that pass through Plattsburgh? Could they convert them to continuous welded rail, and shave a significant amount of time off the route? Could they improve signaling? Add a spur to Albany Airport? How much more tourist traffic would come through Plattsburgh to the Adirondacks?


Unknown said...

Great point. Americans have a huge problem realizing that the future of upstate towns like Plattsburgh and Buffalo depend not on downstate NY or any hope of revitalizing their own former industries. The future lies with the successful and booming Canadian cities over the border. Plattsburgh can play a huge role in the Montreal economy as a secondary airport, freight center, etc. if it improves ties with that metropolis. Same for Buffalo and Toronto.

Cap'n Transit said...

Well, now I didn't say that. I'm all for cross-border connections, including between Plattsburgh and Montreal, but I'm not convinced that Plattsburgh couldn't be revitalized through connections to downstate or their former industries.

A lot of the industries moved away because Southern cities were better adapted to cars and trucks. With the price of oil so high, it may make sense for some industries to relocate back to Rust Belt cities.