Skip to comments.Going Nowhere Fast: Obama’s false promises on high-speed rail
Posted on 04/20/2009 6:23:22 AM PDT by reaganaut1
Book a train from Washington, D.C., to Chicago, and youre in for a ride that takes 17 hours, 35 minutes. Given the choice between that and a two-hour plane trip, its little wonder that most Washingtonians prefer to fly, despite the security searches and the long lines at Reagan National. It is also little wonder that some airlines still make money, whereas Amtrak, Americas near-monopoly provider of inter-city passenger rail service, requires huge annual subsidies.
But what if inter-city train service became much faster? President Obama wants to offer Americans such an option, and to that end he has promised an $8-billion federal investment in high-speed rail, plus $5 billion more over the next five years. Thats just $13 billion in all, and for that, Obama promises to start building ten different rail corridors, each between 100 and 600 miles long.
Any real-life high-speed rail system on the scale Obama is promising would be vastly more expensive than the $13 billion he has committed; in fact, it would require close to half of the $787 billion contained in his recently passed stimulus package.
We know this because high-speed rail systems in other nations were not built, and are not operated, anywhere near so cheaply as Obama suggests. In the past decade, Taiwan built a single 215-mile high-speed passenger route for $15 billion. Germany, France, and Italy, often cited as advanced railroad nations, subsidize their rail systems heavily: Between 1995 and 2003, Germany spent $104 billion on subsidies, France spent $75 billion, and Italy spent $64 billion, according to a 2008 study by Amtraks inspector general. Rail ridership in Europe far outpaces that in the U.S., but in spite of these huge subsidies, trains have lost a significant portion of their market share to automobiles and planes since 1980.
(Excerpt) Read more at article.nationalreview.com ...
Shouldn’t a high speed rail system be funded by the state? If I live in Utah (which I do) and I want to take a High Speed train ride from Ogden to Salt Lake, then catch another to St. George - why should the good folks outside of Utah fund my joyride?
The system, as-is, lacks ‘common sense’. Fly to Gatwick in Great Brittian, and get off the plane and walk to the train section of the terminal and then get on any one of 7+ trains to various destination and/or hubs. Conversely, take Am-Trak to any US Destination, then ‘good luck’ getting anywhere else without paying an arm and a let. Heck, the bus lines aren’t even permitted to service most of our airports.
Before we start something as ambitious as a rail system in the USA, we need to get the ‘basics’ down, like developing local transportation hubs, so when you reach your destination, you have a choice besides an expensive taxi ride.
Amtrak is not a business. It’s a lobby. Look at the route maps. There are stops in as many key congressional districts as possible.
Too much distance between cities in the US vs the UK. Transit makes sense in Japan, France, etc.
Distances are much shorter in Europe compared to the US. Owning an automobile is expensive due to taxes and parking can be a problem.
The car represents freedom to travel when you want and where you want. Mass transportation represents control.
I looked at the routes - stupid... er... stOOOOOOOpid.
It’s a spider web with a hub in Chicago. If you want to take a train from point A to point B, you ALWAYS have to go through Chicago.
BTW, wasn’t there a Simpson’s episode on this very topic?
C’mon back Willie!
President Obama is making all your dreams come true!
That's the agenda in a nutshell. It's what's behind Gore's attack on the internal combustion engine.
I still don’t miss Willie Green. ;’)
Yep, they can stop urban sprawl and dictate where we live and work using the government controlled transportation system.
What better way to make a rail system useful than to significantly raise the price of car ownership, specifically through very high fuel taxes, as is done in other countries?
The worst part is that there are some "Americans" who think this is actually a good idea.
It also limits alternatives forcing one to use the rail system, useful or not.
Our new Overlords would give us faster-than-light travel
Any real-life high-speed rail system on the scale Obama is promising would be vastly more expensive than the [$13 billion] he has committed; in fact, it would require close to half of the [$787 billion] contained in his recently passed stimulus package,obama’s math is at work again.
Why don't trains go to airports? It would make a lot of sense, for example to have a train go from DIA to the ski resorts, instead of having to take Vans to Vail. But they never build a train where it would make sense.
Finally, on the subject of high speed trains, look up the schedules for Acela Express on amtrak.com. Compare them to other trains servicing the same route. From Philly to Boston, you save all of 45 minutes taking the Acela. For a trip that takes 5 to 6 hours, that is nothing.
...ah yes, the Monorail episode, I believe. A flim-flam man shows up in Springfield and sells them on a fancy monorail system that serves no purpose other than to waste public funds, serve as a source of civic pride, and ultimately prove too expensive to maintain.
Or, perhaps the billions he promised were only for administrative costs and all the rest of the expenses were going to be passed on to the states. : ))
Answer: Political corruption. Lobbying by the shuttle, limousine, and taxi operators keeps them out.