Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Is HSR Possible in the US?

I haven't posted at the blog for a long time.  Maybe it's because I haven't found anything I like enough about the state of Passenger Rail in the United States to spend the time on.

Today I read this article.

http://www.ozy.com/fast-forward/the-high-speed-rail-system-america-needs/30518.article

It's one of the best, most comprehensive arguments I have read in favor of Hight Speed Rail (HSR), and probably one of the most realistic.  Please read ALL of the comments accompanying the article.  You can cull the good ones from the crackpots.  All these commentators are right on, and yet here we are, still jumping the same old hurdles.

HURDLE ONE:  Money.  This is a catch all for "we don't like HSR so we're just going to make it cost so much that you'll give up."  It's a political hurdle similar to Mr. Obama's vow to make coal burning plants so expensive that the power companies will just give up.  It doesn't have to cost so much.

So - the real hurdles are political.

HURDLE TWO:  It will only benefit the Northeast.  Yes.  In the short term.  But it's the best chance we've got of demonstrating the good HSR can do for the country.

HURDLE THREE:  It will displace a lot of people and take a lot of land off the tax rolls.  This is one and the same, if you think about it.  People never like to lose their homes or their land, but we've done it with Interstate highways, and we do it for things as mundane as shopping centers or low income housing.  Come on people!  Really?

HURDLE FOUR:  We don't know what form it should take.  That's a cop out.  Other countries have just jumped right in and rolled with the punches (mistakes).  How did we get so risk averse?  America should be able to design and build the absolute best HSR transport in the world - HSR that is truly American!

HURDLE FIVE:  It'll ruin the environment.  This is the fall-back for anyone who wants to oppose anything in this country.  Want to build a sidewalk?  There may be an Indian artifact under it!  Want to cut down a tree.  Heavens!  Logging should not be permitted as there might be a bird up there.  The environmentalists should embrace HSR, but collectively they won't.  When it comes right down to it, they'll throw up roadblocks just because they can.  It's about power, and we've given the real power away to the wackos and kooks for too long.

HURDLE SIX:  It won't make a profit.  I'll repeat my mantra again.  You can search it to see how many times I've said it before.  Passenger Rail does not make a profit anywhere in the world.  You can redefine profit, yes, so that some private enterprise comes out in the black after government subsidy.  What HSR will really do is reduce the need to tax people to provide that subsidy, spur nearby economic growth, and encourage travel for business and pleasure.  All good economic outcomes.

By having a balanced transportation policy, with all kinds of rail transport, including HSR, America can grow itself out of an economy in eternal recession and become a world leader in HSR.

The time for HSR is NOW!

©2014 - C. A. Turek - mistertrains@gmail.com

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