By 2020, China will be blanketed by high-speed
rail. The Asian giant is investing
$1T USD to create 16,000 miles of high-speed rail track -- roughly a third
of the total length of the U.S. interstate highway system. Trains will
zip along at 200+ miles per hour, opening inter-city opportunities for
businessmen and engineers that were formerly only available to the wealthy
elite who own private jets. Meanwhile, much of the U.S. is stuck in the
slow lane, something that may have a dire impact on the nation's
In response to a difficult recovery and growing
conservative movement many states have abandoned plans to deploy high-speed
rail, despite President Obama promising as much as $53B
USD in matching federal grants for state rail projects over
the next six years.
I. U.S. States Opt Out of Advancing U.S.
Some states like Michigan have effectively
rejected projects by simply falling silent. Michigan governor Rick Snyder
has simply stopped talking about the state's former project and has refused
calls or discussions on the topic.
Other states like Florida are taking a more active
stance. Last month Florida Governor Rick Scott -- also a Republican --
killed his state's high-speed rail project. The proposed line would have
connected Tampa to Orlando -- two of Florida's top metropolitan areas.
Governor Scott cites a 2009 study that stated that the line's first
operation year -- 2015 -- would only have 2.4 million riders and would be
operating at a deficit, as a factor in his decision. He also cites advice
from the libertarian Reason Foundation and the Heritage Foundation, a
conservative think tank.
This week the U.S. Department of Energy released a new
study, saying that the initial estimates were incorrect and the line would
likely generate a $10.2M USD surplus on its very first year of operation and
have 3.3 million riders. The new study cost $2.4M USD in federal funding
and was conducted by Wilbur Smith Associates and Steer Davies Gleave.
The governor responded to this study, saying that
"burdening" taxpayers with the $2.4B USD project was unacceptable.
He states, "I had been briefed on their ridership study and I looked
at other ridership studies and I’m still very comfortable with the decision I
made that I don’t want the taxpayers of the state on the hook for the cost
overruns of building it, the operating costs or giving the money back if it’s
A spokesperson for the governor said he questioned
the study's accuracy, stating, "The governor has said all along he
believes ridership projections for this and other rail projects are
overestimated. Numerous studies support this conclusion."
The governor's opinions may not be backed by many
of his constituents, though. A recent poll showed that 59 percent of
residents of Florida's Hillsborough County supported the project.
But it may be too late for Governor Scott to
change his mind -- on Friday U.S. Transportation Department Secretary Ray
LaHood announced that the $2.4B USD in matching funds that Florida would have
received were going to be redirected
II. Federal-backed Semicenturial Transportation
Refresh has Historically Been Vital
The issue of high-speed rail projects is sharply
dividing the U.S. Traditionally liberal west coast states like
California, Oregon, and Washington have embraced the initiative and have
planned a vast interconnect rail network. Meanwhile conservative and
moderate Southeast and Midwest states such as Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, and
Ohio appear on the verge of rejecting rail plans.
Ultimately, history tells us that much of the
U.S.'s modern economic golden age is thanks to transportation pushes that mixed
federal funding (land, grants, etc.) with private sector investment.
Examples include the push for steam rail in the late 1800s and the push for
an interstate highway system in the aftermath of World War II. These
dramatic transportations pushes typically come ever 50 years or so.
Approximately 50 years have passed since the
expansion of the interstate highway system, but this time around not everyone
is supporting the latest push. History shows that the economy is
intimately linked to transportation. Thus, whatever the upfront costs of
intercity rail, states rejecting it may face a much higher cost as businesses
and professionals flee to more technologically advanced states.
But while the states may be among the losers
economically, ultimately it's the nation as a whole that will likely be the
biggest loser. If the U.S. can't keep up with China in terms of
transportation it will be at a tremendous handicap economically. And
financial trends tell world observers that the U.S. has little margin for error
in its bid to stay ahead of a surging China.
quote: The feds wouldn't want to relinquish "giving" the states highway money though, because that's what gives them control over the states to implement things like a national speed limit or national air-quality standards.
quote: "The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission." -John F. Kennedy
quote: Your attitude is frankly disgusting, and is the perfect example of what's wrong with this country. This "I have mine, screw the rest of you" attitude. And you call yourself a patriot too. Mind boggling.
quote: You're comparing apples to oranges here, bud. Amtrak caters to a very small population who are not concerned with how slow their trip is, so the cost is a moot point.
quote: The problem I see is eventually some radical islamist will come up with the idea of blowing up a train.
quote: if you could just show up at the station 15 minutes before the train leaves and hop on it
quote: To promote terror, that's the whole point, they blow up train stations, trains, banks, stores, gas stations, cafes with 5 people in them, it doesn't matter, all over the world every day.
quote: One unerring mark of the love of truth is not entertaining any proposition with greater assurance that the proofs it is built upon warrant.
quote: No one is as wrong as the man whose knows all the answers.
quote: The issue of high-speed rail projects is sharply dividing the U.S. Traditionally liberal west coast states like California, Oregon, and Washington have embraced the initiative.
quote: Thus, whatever the upfront costs of intercity rail, states rejecting it may face a much higher cost as businesses and professionals flee to more technologically advanced states.
quote: If the U.S. can't keep up with China in terms of transportation it will be at a tremendous handicap economically. And financial trends tell world observers that the U.S. has little margin for error in its bid to stay ahead of a surging China.
quote: people would be interested as a way of avoiding air travel and the crap that comes with it.
quote: I have never taken from the government that which i didn't earn and don't rely on them for me or my families safety in the microcosm.
quote: promote the general Welfare
quote: You are inferring your own beliefs and conclusions into the preamble by citing vague notions. Are you a medium? Can you commune with dead spirits? I didn't think so.
quote: With respect to the two words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.
quote: It says a lot that we're waffling and trying to appease any number of dissenting lobbies while China just does it.
quote: The bigger push, to me, would be to interconnect suburbs/rural areas with major metropolitan cities so people can live where they want and work where they want without having to deal with long commutes and lost time.
quote: Do you know that LA has a subway? And with free bus transfer? It really can get you where you want to go.
quote: The new study cost $2.4M USD in federal funding and was conducted by Wilbur Smith Associates and Steer Davies Gleave.
quote: Also for those that think it will be a quick and easy thing to get aboard compared to flying, I imagine you will still have the long lines, body searches and every thing else carry over from flying to this because they will definitely become suspected terrorist targets seeing how new and shiny a target they would make.
quote: That said, the risk of terrorism is vastly overblown. Our airport security measures probably kill more people than terrorists. By making it inconvenient to fly, people choose to drive instead of fly. And your chances of dying in an accident while driving are much higher than while flying.
quote: The lines will be shorter because to bring down a plane
quote: There is a lot of power in land, and tapping that land allows us to more effectively utilize our resources. Maintaining rural areas can be expensive but is offset with local state and town tax.
quote: If we want to expand as a country we need to provide incentive on populating these more rural areas and expanding or we will continue on the path of densely populated cities with poor living conditions and penalize rural industry.
quote: An area without any form of development will remain a rural area.
quote: Why would the rural areas want to become like the crowded inner cities everyone is trying to escape from.
quote: Amtrack is the same way; while it operates at a loss, its positive economic impacts [increase in business] more then offsets the cost to operate, and is thus a net positive.
quote: This problem is that people like you don't understand, and refuuse to consider, that value that these projects could bring to our country.