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Transportation Book Reading and Signing - James McCommons
Friday, May 7, 2010 - 3:30pm to Friday, May 7, 2010 - 5:00pm

Portland State University and OTREC, in partnership with the Portland Chapter of the Women's Transportation Seminar, are pleased to welcome James McCommons to campus on Friday, May 7th, at 3:30pm. McCommons is author of "Waiting on a Train," which chronicles the year he spent riding Amtrak around the United States. He is touring the northwest in early May (by train!) and WTS, PSU and OTREC are pleased to host his Portland appearance. See below for more about the book.

Who: James McCommons, author of "Waiting on a Train"

When: Friday, May 7, 3:30-5:00

Where: Portland State University, Urban Center (SW 6th and Mill), 2nd Floor Gallery

What: Mr. McCommons will give a reading and presentation about the book, answer questions, sign books (for sale on site) and mingle (light refreshments provided)

Why: Because you love transportation, railroading, books, or all of the above



During the tumultuous year of 2008—when gas prices reached $4 a gallon, Amtrak set ridership records, and a commuter train collided with a freight train in California—journalist James McCommons spent a year on America’s trains, talking to the people who ride and work the rails throughout much of the Amtrak system. Organized around these rail journeys, Waiting on a Train is equal parts travel narrative, personal memoir, and investigative journalism.

Readers meet the historians, railroad executives, transportation officials, politicians, government regulators, railroad lobbyists, and passenger-rail advocates who are rallying around a simple question: Why has the greatest railroad nation in the world turned its back on the very form of transportation that made modern life and mobility possible?

Distrust of railroads in the nineteenth century, overregulation in the twentieth, and heavy government subsidies for airports and roads have left the country with a skeletal intercity passenger-rail system. Amtrak has endured for decades, and yet failed to prosper owing to a lack of political and financial support and an uneasy relationship with the big, remaining railroads.

While riding the rails, McCommons explores how the country may move passenger rail forward in America—and what role government should play in creating and funding mass-transportation systems. Against the backdrop of the nation’s stimulus program, he explores what it will take to build high-speed trains and transportation networks, and when the promise of rail will be realized in America.

About the author: James McCommons has been a journalist for more than twenty-five years and published hundreds of articles in magazines and major newspapers. A former senior editor at Organic Gardening magazine, he specializes in ecology and travel writing. He grew up in a railroad family and has spent thirty-five years riding trains in America. He currently teaches journalism and nature writing at Northern Michigan University in the Upper Peninsula.