Energy Efficiency manager named head of rail program

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(Host) The Agency of Transportation will soon have a new rail program manager. Robert Ide of the Department of Public Service’s Energy Efficiency program will move to the top rail spot on June 16. That position has been empty for the past five months.

Ide says rail and energy efficiency are directly related, and he says rail will be needed to cut the state’s carbon footprint.

(Ide) "In Vermont we’re down all we can, or virtually all we can on the electrical side of that issue. We should give ourselves an A plus, and a pat on the back, and start looking at how we heat our buildings and how we move our goods and services and people, because our carbon opportunities are in the goods and fuels that are consumed in transportation and in heating sources."

(Host) Ide says he’ll work with the state’s current freight companies to discover what needs to be improved, and to eventually create new opportunities for companies to ship by rail, including a new rail spur in Middlebury.

Passenger service will also be on Ide’s mind when he steps into his new role. Ide says he’s open to creating more opportunities for passenger rail in areas where the numbers justify it, including a line from St. Albans to I-B-M.

Ide was a state senator when the state’s previous experiment in passenger rail, the Champlain Flyer, was operating.

(Ide) "The whole premise of the Champlain Flyer was to offer a rail opportunity to individuals who would be impacted by the reconstruction of Route 7 south of Burlington towards Charlotte. The reality is that project went into service before the reconstruction started, because of delays in the road construction, so in my mind the Champlain Flyer never had a reasonable opportunity to work.”

(Host) But Ide says he’d like more rail opportunities for commuters.

Ide says he plans to familiarize himself with the state’s rail projects soon, and he hopes to bring a sense of energy and commitment to the state’s rail community.

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