HSR and Economic Expansion

Feb 24th, 2010 | Posted by

We’re used to the claims from HSR deniers and critics that HSR’s costs are too high to be justified. These folks think nothing of dismissing the hundreds of thousands of jobs that the system would create. Their argument, a deflationary and Hooverist argument, has been that we should not spend the $40 billion or so it takes to get Phase I of California HSR built from SF to LA and Anaheim, no matter the costs of having to expand airports and freeways to handle the demand, no matter the long-term increases in oil prices.

We have been battling these arguments with a great deal of success ever since this blog launched nearly 2 years ago. But now we are armed with a powerful new tool to help explain just how HSR will help improve our economy. The Martin Prosperity Institute based at the University of Toronto, headed by Richard Florida, a renowned scholar of the 21st century economy, has a new study out showing the impact of HSR on the economy. Their argument is it brings “expanded opportunities and reduced costs” to regional economies. It will likely be dismissed by those who believe the status quo works just fine, but for the rest of us who understand that change is already under way, it is a big boost to our claims that HSR is essential to California’s future prosperity.

The study grew out of the Martin Prosperity Institute’s examination of proposed Canadian HSR projects, but is broadly applicable to North America as a whole, as the authors explain:

Economic history is replete with evidence of forward-thinking infrastructure investments that could not be justified by the evaluation tools of their time but ultimately proved transformative to the economic system. The Trans-Canada railway, the U.S. Interstate Highway System, and ARPANET (precursor to the Internet) all fall into this category. The new paper argues that high-speed rail infrastructure has the potential to have the same sort of transformative effect.

Their point is powerful: the current “evaluation tools” we have are designed for a late 20th century economy where the price of oil is dirt-cheap and the overriding imperative is to fuel a series of asset bubbles to allow the financial economy to grow rapidly. Edward Glaeser’s thoroughly discredited attack on HSR is a good example of how 20th century tools that are now obsolete don’t provide a full picture of HSR’s benefits.

So what are those benefits?

First, it expands the labour pool available to employers, bringing talented workers from nearby centres within commuting distance and thus expanding the quantity and quality of available employees. So, for example, high-speed rail would enable a company in Toronto looking for a mobile user-interface designer to draw on talent living in Kitchener-Waterloo, London, and Kingston. In economic terms, an effective transportation system improves productivity because it helps allocate labour inputs more effectively.

Or, translated to California, HSR would enable a company in San José to draw on talent living in Fresno, Burbank, or Orange County. Some might argue that we’ll all just telecommute and there’ll be no need for face-to-face meetings ever again, but as someone who actually telecommutes for a living, I can assure you that it absolutely does not replace face-to-face meetings. The latter will always be an important part of the business world. Always. You cannot build meaningful collaborative relationships without somewhat regular in-person meetings. And many companies still prefer to have their employees under one roof in order to achieve better working relationships and outcomes.

Second, high-speed rail expands the size of the job market available to workers. Because it increases the distance that commuters can travel for work, it allows them to seek employment across what were once multiple, separate labour markets. This is particularly important in an era when self-employment, contract-oriented work, and part-time work are all rising, meaning that workers are searching for jobs more frequently than ever. Eliminating the need to move to a new home to follow economic opportunity saves significant financial and social costs.

This is extremely important, and is totally ignored by those financially secure people on the Peninsula who have the luxury to whine about a perceived (and unlikely) hit to their property values while many of their neighbors and fellow Californians struggle to keep their homes and put food on the table.

The economy of 21st century California will require much greater flexibility from workers. People living in the Bay Area will start to need to consider working for SoCal-based employers and vice-versa. Richard Florida’s upcoming book, The Great Reset, argues that the current economic crisis is totally reshaping the economic geography of the United States. The outcome of the Great Recession will be the establishment of new labor markets that are comprised of multiple nearby metropolitan areas, and that only a few of these regions will thrive in the first decades of the 21st century, whereas others will wither.

In the second half of the 20th century freeways, and rail systems like BART, helped take job markets that were highly localized in nature – San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond, etc – and knit them into a “Bay Area” that had not just a regional identity but a genuinely regional labor market.

Florida’s argument, reflected in the Martin Prosperity Institute study, is that this is already happening again, just on a larger scale. The Bay Area, the Central Valley, and Southern California will become a “megaregion” encompassing 80% of the state’s population. If that megaregion is to fulfill its potential and compete not only with other megaregions on the continent already served by effective intercity passenger rail (the Northeast Corridor), but with other megaregions around the globe served by HSR (Iberia, France, Benelux, eastern China), it needs to be able to move workers within the region as affordably and efficiently as possible.

Those needs cannot be served by our current infrastructure. Airlines are already struggling under the weight of rising oil prices and a security theater of the absurd. HSR is the only way to combine speedy travel with affordable travel, especially in an era of steadily rising oil prices. Just as the transcontinental railroads made California’s agricultural industry possible, as the Panama Canal helped make our manufacturing industry possible, as the interstate freeways helped make our late 20th century jobs possible, and as ARPANET and other defense-funded research at places like Stanford helped make Silicon Valley possible, HSR will make 21st century prosperity possible.

The study adds a third point:

Third, faster connections extend the benefits of other expensive, productivity-enhancing infrastructure across the entire mega-region. International airports, major research universities and reference libraries are all more financially viable and internationally competitive when they serve a larger population. High-speed rail allows them to build the scale they need to achieve world-class excellence and also spreads their high costs across a wider population.

If you ever wondered why SFO is a big backer of HSR, there’s an answer. But more importantly, that’s also a big part of the reason why local chambers of commerce in the Bay Area, the Central Valley, and Southern California support HSR, along with organizations comprised of large corporations such as the Bay Area Council (which 60 years ago played the key role in getting BART off the ground) and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

HSR would make it easier for students to attend UC Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford, USC, and other key institutions by making commuting a viable option (living on campus is an unbeatable but costly experience). Other institutions that are or will fuel economic growth in the 21st century will be renewed by being able to draw upon a far larger pool of users and talent.

One thing the study summary doesn’t explain is the benefits to entrepreneurs and creative innovators in existing economic powerhouses of being able to quickly access cheaper land and space. Let’s say you work in Silicon Valley and have some interesting new ideas for some green technology – but finding the space to set up your business is tough since rents are so high in the Bay Area’s urban core.

HSR gives you a solution – go find some cheap place out in Fresno and set up there. Commute the hour or so out there to work and then back home to Santa Clara County.

It works in reverse. As we saw in the 2000s, places like Stockton and Modesto became home to Bay Area commuters priced out of the nine-county market. This was a totally unsustainable situation, and once commute costs rose too high, the housing bubble collapsed and turned the San Joaquin Valley into California’s Detroit. But HSR will make those cities viable again as commuter suburbs – and will mitigate against sprawl, since physical proximity to a station will become of paramount importance.

In short, there are many reasons to believe that HSR is vital to California’s economic future. Yet it faces opposition from the forces who defend a failed status quo.

Nearly every single one of the Peninsula NIMBYs, for example, are people who have benefited financially from the late 20th century. I have no objection to that in principle. But they are now feeling threatened by the emergence of a 21st century economy and the infrastructure needed to support it. So their reaction is to try and strangle that economic growth in the crib by preventing the infrastructure from getting built.

It is a reactive, short-term, and delusional strategy. They’ll eventually be taken under by the collapse of the 20th century model as the rest of us already have been. But because they retain some prosperity, they believe preserving it is the highest priority. They think that because it’s their property values which are (mistakenly) assumed to be threatened, they can generate sympathy from enough political forces to help kill HSR.

What they don’t understand, in their myopic belief that there’s nothing at all wrong with the status quo, is that the failed status quo is threatening a whole lot more people. And that many, MANY more Californians see HSR as a way to help grow the economy for the coming decades. Californians aren’t interested in bailing out and propping up those who are doing just fine during this recession. They want to help put people back to work, and produce a state that is globally competitive, free from dependence on soaring oil prices, and that can innovate our way into leading the sustainable technologies of this century rather than relying on the unsustainable technologies of the last century.

In short, while the NIMBYs believe their economic self-interest is powerful, our economic self-interest is FAR more powerful. They are merely defending what they’ve already got. The rest of California is fighting for its future, for its ability to keep its head above water, for its ability to compete nationally and globally.

That is why we fight for HSR. That is why we reject the inherently elitist arguments of the HSR opponents and critics. And that is why we will ultimately prevail and build a 21st century California where prosperity is shared by the many, rather than hoarded by the few.

  1. Spokker
    Feb 25th, 2010 at 00:25
    #1

    “And that is why we will ultimately prevail and build a 21st century California where prosperity is shared by the many, rather than hoarded by the few.”

    What is the GINI coefficient that you are striving for, Robert? While extreme income inequality is probably a bad thing, extreme income equality is probably a bad thing as well. It’s not like we’re South Africa or something.

    And it’s not like the peasants are going to be riding high speed rail in droves, especially at the higher fares. It’s just a useful piece infrastructure, not a panacea for all of our social ills.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Very few developed countries are actually at the point of extreme equality. Sweden had a Gini of 21 before its financial crisis hit twenty years ago, but outside the communist world that’s unheard of. Nowadays its Gini is 29, and I believe that the Gini of most other Scandinavian countries is about the same. Many more developed and fast-growing developing countries have Ginis in the low 30s. All this is compatible with economic vitality. In fact, the worst off economies in Europe nowadays include some of the least equal European countries: Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Italy.

    It’s funny you mention South Africa. The US is halfway between South Africa and Sweden in inequality.

    Maxi Reply:

    Alon’s right. We have the Gini coefficient of MEXICO, CHINA, and UGANDA. This is obviously not a good thing, even arguable that it’s diving society and snatching government from the lower classes, but in general we should be heading in a direction where our equality level isn’t the outlier of all first world countries.

    Take a quote from the lastest analysis of american migration patterns of the category California is in:
    http://www.american.com/archive/2010/february/how-the-recession-has-changed-american-migration (idk how to embed urls here)

    “These [select states] are increasingly, at least in their major metro areas, two-tiered societies, with a highly educated and high-income native-born elite (augmented by high-skill immigrants) combined with an increasing body of relatively uneducated and low-income immigrant masses. Middle education and middle income have been squeezed out, though at a lesser rate in the recession. Politically, these states have voted heavily Democratic, with both tiers casting large Democratic percentages.”

    It doesn’t help with guys like Richard Florida espousing the join the creative class or sink mantra. He clearly sees no place for ordinary people, when his elite class is the driving force the country, to the point that he feels policy should focus on them, and even build them their own separate cities so they can function at their optimum.

    TomW Reply:

    Does anyone have Gini co-efficients by state?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Census Factfinder provides Gini coefficients for every state, county, and metro area. Use this link to get data for California and LA County; for other geographies, click on the link “geography” and choose something else.

    You can download the data in Excel format if you choose a lot of different geographies at the same time; I’ve done so for metro areas.

    My interpretation of the data is that the intranational differences aren’t large. The least equal metro area, New York, has a Gini of 0.5, and the most equal, Seattle and Minneapolis, are at 0.43, still higher than in any European country. The inequality levels tend to be higher in urban areas than in rural areas, and tend to be higher in the Deep South and the Northeast than elsewhere: after New York, the least equal major metro areas are Miami, New Orleans, Birmingham, Memphis, and Houston. Within each metro area, inequality is highest in the urban core and in favored quarter suburbs. In California, the three most unequal counties are by a large margin San Francisco, Marin, and Los Angeles, in this order.

    spokker Reply:

    “The US is halfway between South Africa and Sweden in inequality.”

    I have no problem with Sweden. It would be great if we moved in that direction, but we also want to reward hard work in this country so its a delicate balancing act. Sweden is a wonderful country but many of their best and brightest come here, that nation footing the bill for their training and education and our nation reaping the rewards due to a relatively low tax burden.

    Maybe if South Africa gets its shit together someday our best and brighten will go there ;)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The US doesn’t actually reward hard work. Its income elasticity coefficient, which measures how closely correlated sons’ incomes are to their fathers’, is among the highest in the developed world; recent studies all peg it in the high 40s, and the most frequently cited study puts it at 0.47. Only Britain and Italy are even a wash; all other developed countries measured are far more mobile, ranging from Denmark at 0.14 to France at 0.41.

    Nor does the US get much immigration from Sweden. It gets the best and brightest from China and India, but Europe’s best and brightest largely stay in Europe.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    This has been true for a few decades now, but in the present situation we’re witnessing a deepening stratification of the income levels and even further erosion of upward mobility.

    How does HSR fit in? If we don’t wean ourselves off of oil, then only those already in prosperous families will be able to access the prosperity of the California “megaregion” and many others will be left out.

    I think Richard Florida’s basic projection of the “megaregion” is accurate, but he assigns no value judgement to it. We can use the emergence of a megaregion to produce more economic equality and lower the Gini coefficient and income elasticity coefficient – or we can just let present trends play themselves out and the megaregion will become a giant Rio de Janeiro.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Yo Spok!
    I’d also argue that the Trans-Continental Railroad, Interstate Highway System, and the internet weren’t “a panacea for all of our social ills” either. But C’Mon! You know exactly where Robert’s coming from and you know this project is important for the future of our State. Stop trying to be so dramatic with your attempted rebuttal. (resorting to profanity now are we?)

    spokker Reply:

    I said that it would be useful infrastructure.

    Profanity rules.

    Robert is as much as a drama queen as anyone on the Peninsula.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I’ve been called many things before, but drama queen is a new one. I do have my moments, I suppose.

  2. Spokker
    Feb 25th, 2010 at 00:28
    #2

    To be honest I think it’s going to be very useful for business travel, and that may justify higher fares as is the case on Acela, where firms pick up the tab anyway.

    I would imagine that Republicans would love a project like this because the trains will be full of capitalists headed for big meetings and shit. I would have figured hardcore liberals would be against this project in favor of stupid shit like revitalizing the LA River. Yeah it’s ugly but it prevents floods, okay? Fuck off. The thing gives LA its edge.

    TomW Reply:

    Don’t assume everyone will pay the same fares… there will almost certainyl be some “buisness class” carriages which will command higher prices.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    True progressives, who believe in economic justice, support HSR as a way to make travel affordable in a post-oil era. Issues such as the LA River can and will be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

    spokker Reply:

    The focus is on profitability. If the service becomes wildly popular with business users, I would expect the service to be catered to them.

    Nothing is set in stone at this point. It’s entire possible that the operator does not offer coach class and instead says, “Ride the Surfliner. Ride the San Joaquins.” If you want coach class on the Northeast Corridor, you ride Northeast Regional.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    A few things to keep in mind about Acela. It’s all first and business class – there are no coach seats. If you have a bit more time to spend and don’t mind riding in Amfleet cars instead of Acela cars the regional trains get you there. Except for a two stretches, for short trips there is also commuter rail. In a few places along with commuter rail there’s subway service.

    jimsf Reply:

    The concrete thing the they call the LA river, should remain, its always been such a perfect symbol of LA. if they go and make it all natural and stuff, that would be so wrong, so northern cali, I go to LA to vive la difference. please keep your edge LA don’t go all tree hugger on us now.

    spokker Reply:

    The concrete LA River is iconic.

    jimsf Reply:

    and hollywood depends on it. the whole world knows that that is where all the bad guys go to escape during the high speed chases… and its where little billy always gets stranded during the big storm.

    spokker Reply:

    That’s where we all go to escape during high speed chases. Don’t take that away from us!

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    Love that draconian concrete flood drain called the LA River! People forget that it was always a seasonal and ridiculed stream that during flood years wreaked worse havoc than the Mississippi. The faux “restoration” efforts have some merit but also rooted in a lot of revisionist hokum. “Losing it’s edge” is such a great phrase!

    spokker Reply:

    The plans don’t call for a “restored” LA river but a reinvented one. It relies on flow that doesn’t exist most of the time anyway.

    The LA River Restoration project is not restoration, but an economic development project. Its boosters would rather you be fooled into believing that they are restoring the river, however.

    spokker Reply:

    It’s the place where races are started by pulling down the chick’s top and then the punk crashes and dies while the hero cholo wins triumphantly. I love it.

    spokker Reply:

    And http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3013/2431791217_1c381cd7c3_o.jpg

    jimsf Reply:

    …then the camero jumps the river and makes it but the cop cars flip….

    jimsf Reply:

    Acela pasengers are very loyal they love it. They are mostly business folks, those trains don’t allow senior discounts, aaa discounts, disabled discounts, or any other discount. Full fare only and business and first only.

    In cali, there will likely be first, business and coach, I would hope any way.

    HSR coach is likely to be higher than conventional coach and can tell you, probably 75 percent of more of cali’s exiting passengers are going to stay on the existing trains. They already freak out when the fare goes up from 10 bucks to 12 bucks for a trip to stockton, or from 31 to 41 for fresno. Most of them don’t have the extra money and will actually re book for the next day to save the 10 dollars.

    now the air passengers will be willing to pay so long as the fares are equal to air fares.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Acela passengers are loyal, as long as they don’t get screwed, as my girlfriend just did. She booked a 3:10 train from New York to Providence to get to a battery of interviews at Brown starting at 8. She had tickets delivered to our apartment by mail, saying the train would depart at 3:10. She showed up at Penn Station at 2:47, only to be told that the train had been rescheduled to 2:40 and had already left. This is forcing her on the 6:20 Acela, for which she’d have to buy a ticket at 5 in the morning, and which is scheduled to arrive in Providence at 9:22. Effectively, Amtrak screwed her with a three hour delay; even airlines almost never do that.

    wu ming Reply:

    “even airlines almost never do that”

    really?

    wu ming Reply:

    it appears there have been so many 3 or more hour delays, the USDOT made a rule trying to limit them.

  3. Alon Levy
    Feb 25th, 2010 at 03:12
    #3

    Did you just call Richard Florida a “renowned scholar”? Renowned by whom – the same kind of people who buy Thomas Friedman’s books?

    Tony D. Reply:

    Alon,
    If the Right wants to kiss the A$$ of the Reason Foundation or anything Howard Jarvis, the Left can do the same with Richard Florida. Fair is fair!

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Florida isn’t on the left, however. The difference is his analysis isn’t inherently opposed to the goals of the left, though he personally can’t be easily pinned down on a typical political spectrum.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    By a lot of people. Tom Friedman is also a renowned columnist even though he is wrong twice as often as he is right. Of course, feel free to disagree with the substance of what Florida argues here. I don’t support arguments from authority, even when the authority in question is on my side.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t know what “A lot of people” means – the reactions I’ve read to Florida from the urban studies and sociology communities have been negative.

    The study you’re quoting is very short on evidence. It talks about the hypothetical benefits of HSR, and then browbeats people into submission with the “This is the 21st century, w00t!” remarks. It’s not a cost/benefit model, or a call for the right transit priorities.

    I would even go out on a limb and say that it’s related to Florida’s shilling for the educated upper class: Florida (as well as Friedman) wastes no time worrying about intra-urban transportation, or about environmental goals. Instead he dwells on systems to get people from gentrified neighborhoods in one city to gentrified neighborhoods in another.

    You’re right in your other comment that Florida isn’t really on the left. He’s just a booster, like Friedman, which means that he shills for the globalized, culturally liberal upper class, packaging it in terms like “Creative class” (as if Silver Lake hipsters are any more creative than immigrants in East LA and Santa Ana).

  4. wu ming
    Feb 25th, 2010 at 05:50
    #4

    i find richard florida to be more than a bit of a snake-oil salesman, but i wholeheartedly agree that HSR will be an essential part of a successful 21st century infrastructure, and that those regions who fail to build it, along with a carbon-free energy infrastructure, global warming resilient/low oil regional agricultural systems, and adequate housing aligned with non-fossil fuel transit feeder networks, will not do well in the decades to come.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    He’s not quite the social democrat I’d prefer, but I think him to be a very astute observer of economic trends, and he writes about them in a way that social democrats can embrace. He’s not a neoliberal by any means. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest his “Great Reset” thesis of a few emerging megaregions dominating the economic landscape is exactly what is already coming to pass. How we respond is up to us.

  5. Elizabeth
    Feb 25th, 2010 at 07:54
    #5

    OT

    Interesting study on interaction between Bay Area airports and HSR for MTC meeting. I happened to attend seminar this week on same topic. We’ve put up various links for anyone interested – http://www.calhsr.com/event/public-meeting-impact-of-hsr-on-bay-area-airports-226/

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I plan to write more about this later today/tonight. The short version is that the MTC study proves that HSR will mirror the successes of HSR routes in Spain, China, Taiwan, and other parts of the world in moving travelers away from short-haul flights and onto trains. Airports will need to adjust, but that is a necessary move in an era where we are reducing dependence on oil.

    And of course, the MTC study is further proof that the HSR ridership assumptions are quite valid.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The MTC study uses the Cambridge numbers as its primary source so it should be considered a study of the implications of the ridership projections, not an independent look at them.

    Reinhard Clever’s work is quite interesting. You may want to talk to him before coming to any conclusions.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    In France, airports have adjusted by subsidising low-cost airlines. Marseille airport has built a separate barebone low-cost terminal practically exempt from airport tax. It helps Ryanair compete with the TGV. You won’t see any businessmen on Ryanair flights. They’re all in the TGV.
    The irony of it is that the airport got state aid to build the new terminal. thus, the French state subsidised an Irish airline to help it compete with a French train.
    Don’t try to understand, this is France…

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Was it an effort to bring Irish tourists to Marseille?

    I’m probably going to be in France this summer. Can’t wait to finally ride the TGV. Maybe if I call ahead I can get SNCF to set me up with a tour.

    jimsf Reply:

    get some pics and video! details details….

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    They might even give you VIP treatment if they know who you are…
    Ryanair has a Paris-Marseille link with fares starting at €9.90. By the way, what they call “Paris” is actually Beauvais, a low-cost airport 50 miles north of Paris.

  6. jimsf
    Feb 25th, 2010 at 12:24
    #6
  7. jimsf
    Feb 25th, 2010 at 12:57
    #7

    speaking infrastructure investment. I’m watching this alcan highway thing, do you know they built a 1400 mile long highway through virgin alaskan wilderness, over rivers and mountain ranges, with 1942 technology ( mainly a bulldozer and a bunch of guys) and the two year project was finished in only 8 months.

    and now it takes us how long to do nothing? Its really pretty shameful. This country i getting its ass whooped by every measure by the very world we dominated for a century.

  8. Andre Peretti
    Feb 25th, 2010 at 13:43
    #8

    I suppose this means when PTC is implemented non-compliance will no longer be an issue.
    HSR trains will be able to use Caltrain tracks at moderate speeds, even towed by a diesel on unelectrified portions. This temporary solution was used by SNCF to ensure one-seat trips.
    Now, imagine trains doing LA-SJ at high speed, and then having to be towed to SF by a diesel. There will be a general outcry, with all fingers pointed at the selfish nimbys. That will be the end of them.

  9. morris brown
    Feb 25th, 2010 at 15:35
    #9

    The StateS Repiblican caucus has just released a Policy Paper titled:

    California’s Flirtation with
    High-Speed Rail:
    Brave New World or Big Dig West?

    http://cssrc.us/publications.aspx?id=7605&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

    Robert and others here who won’t opern their eyes, will really love this I am sure. Now if all the republican party members will only stick together and not approve funds for this boondoggle, it should die a a quick death, since all funding must be appropriated by the legislature and requires a 2/3 vote, which without some Republican support, cannot be achieved.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Your comment and that study are a perfect illustration of the point I made in this post. The California Republican Caucus is dedicated to the preservation of the economic status quo and vehemently opposed to doing anything that would help produce future prosperity. Not all Republicans feel that way – many Republican members of the public support HSR, and Republicans like Arnold Schwarzenegger are strong supporters of the project. But the legislative Republican caucus is out of touch with those other GOP HSR supporters.

    Ironically, it was the Republican Party that got both the transcontinental railroad and the Interstate Highway System built. Of course, today’s Republican Party would denounce Dwight Eisenhower as a communist.

    Joey Reply:

    Bunch of naiveté, speculation, and FUD. Estimates for anything happening in the future are subject to change. By the time CAHSR is operating, there will likely be several systems operating at or above 225 mph. No, rail technology from 50 years ago isn’t good enough for us. Yes, some HSR systems do fail to meet ridership projections (though you can’t count the first five years), and yet they still manage to be profitable.

    Any questions?

    Peter Reply:

    And 217 mph in operation in China isn’t close enough to 225 mph for the Republican Party? Oh, so we should lay it out for higher speeds?

    Joey Reply:

    Yeah, apparently, since trains area running at 217 today, we should shoot for 150 in a decade or so.

    Peter Reply:

    Given that their primary sources are Wendell Cox and the Reason Foundation, I don’t see how a reasonable, educated person can take them seriously.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Forget about Cox and Reason … isn’t it enough to just say “Given that they’re Republicans …” ?

    Joey Reply:

    Nope

    synonymouse Reply:

    For coming from the Republican Party this position paper is remarkably sensible.

    This is nothing anywhere close to the anti-transit, pro-auto and highway mentality of the McCarthyite period. Both Eisenhower and Reagan would have agreed that streetcars, for example, were old-fashioned and should be scrapped in favor of buses. You are probably too young to remember the utter contempt the establishment had for public transit and especially rail transit in the fifties.

    Eisenhower would have condemned the hsr as a waste of money that should be spent only on highways.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Republicans should be tried for Treason with there Middle East Oil sucking way

    dist Reply:

    It’s allways funny to see how it’s easy to bend words and truth so they look suspicious.

    It would be really stupid for California not to build this since HSR has demonstrated its advantages over and over again around the world (UK, France, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan even the US and the Acela). I really don’t understand how someone could try to contest those facts. Sure some errors were comited (like Eurotunnel) but still, it doesn’t negate the fact that HSR is a worldwide success.

    People, politicians and citizens, should be more preoccupied by how to make this work than to try to kill this project for absurd reasons.

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