Monday, February 01, 2010

Cost More Than Speed

Wendall Cox breaks through the happy talk and reveals the true appeal of high speed rail in a piece in today's WSJ:

On Thursday the Obama administration awarded $8 billion in stimulus funds to plan and build high-speed rail projects in California and Florida, and for other routine passenger-rail projects masquerading as high-speed rail. This is a political plum to the states that will receive the money.

It is also a dream come true for fans of bullet trains in Japan and Europe and the faster, greenhouse gas-belching Mag-Lev (magnetic levitation) lines. But this is not money well spent.

Supporters say high-speed rail is a cost-effective, "green" solution to airport and highway congestion. In reality, it is costly to build and operate and has a negligible impact on highway and airport traffic. High-speed rail is driven by little more than a romantic notion to confer a European ambiance on American cities.

Now I love a little European ambiance as much as the next guy. And I've had good experiences with high speed rail in Europe. If it made sense to do it in the U.S., I'd be more than happy to support it. However, when you look at the costs involved in most of the proposed American routes compared to the benefits you realize from them, it simply doesn't work out.


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