Ear leader pushes light rail in SOTU – “this time for sure!”

During the state of the union address Obama proselytized for more light rail. Modern rail projects are a proven economic failure and Amtrak wouldn’t exist for 10 minutes if the government wasn’t subsidizing every single ticket. Some rail posts from the past:

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3 Responses to Ear leader pushes light rail in SOTU – “this time for sure!”

  1. Sean says:

    It’s a tricky situation. For 6 years I took a regional commuter train about 25 miles into Seattle. I can’t really defend the subsidy, but given the price of gas parking, and the hours it would take to drive round trip, each train carried 800 people * 5 trains each way.

    It’s also really nice for getting to sporting events where downtown parking costs $50 for the day.

    This particular line ran on BNSF owned rail ways. Who knows what that cost to “rent”.

    I think the commuter math should simply be: what is it worth to keep 4000 off of I-5 each day? I realize it’s fuzzy territory to prove this, but in theory you may be able to trade road improvements for increased mass transit capacity.

    Today I’m working equally far, but in a different end of town. The bus is “ok”, but that big diesel train moving @ 70mph with 110v AC outlets, wifi and restrooms sure was nice when I had it.

    The buses and trains are all packed where I work and live. I have no idea who is paying how much, but the stuff is used.

  2. Les Jones says:

    There’s no doubt there are a lot of places where rail lines make sense (though even then they tend to be heavily subsidized).

    The question is marginal: will the next rail line make sense? And does making it high speed make the proposition better or worse? Follow the link to that story on California’s high speed rail to see how bad their plan for an LA-to-San Fran high speed train is.

  3. Paul says:

    Keep in mind automotive traffic is subsidized too. The interstate system for example, was not paid for merely with gas tax receipts. And the Middle East occupations cost money too, not to mention lives.

    Nothing government does is pure or virtuous.