September 16, 2010

You Can Drive I-94 Faster

High speed rail between Milwaukee and Madison is projected to reach speeds in excess of 79 miles an hour.  Ooh. Aah.

Your tax dollars at work.  $810 million of it, or about one-tenth of the total high-speed rail dollars in the stimulus bill, to be spent so a train can go from Milwaukee to Madison at freeway speeds.

Meanwhile, California's debt-financed high-speed rail transport project has yet to lay a single track, is over ten billion dollars short of the money needed because people forgot to account for inflation when they asked the voters for bonds, and will need to charge fares higher than commuter flights for transit between the two biggest economic hubs of the project, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Which is all a damn shame, because I've seen in Europe just how awesome a real high-speed train line can be, how it can spur tourism and economic activity. But our friends in Europe invested in rail at the right time; we made other choices about how to invest in our infrastructure.

So now high speed rail in the U.S. is "Reinvestment in America."  Are you feeling' in yet?

2 comments:

peaches said...

Do you think it's possible to establish an efficient high-speed rail system in the states? Or even within states? Or do you think that any investment in additional passenger rail is a waste of money at this point?

Transplanted Lawyer said...

That's a good question.

Efficiency comes in two forms -- moving people and cargo quickly from A to B (where A and B are long distances apart) and it also comes in cost-efficiency. I've no doubt that sufficient technical skill exists to accomplish the first. The question is whether enough people will use it to justify the cost -- which they will only do if it is competitive with what an airline can offer.

That seems more likely to happen along the eastern seaboard corridor between Boston and Washington than it does for transport between western metropoli.