Vice President Joseph Biden laid out details of the plan in Philadelphia today. He pitched the plan as necessary to keep America competitive with the rest of the world.
“We cannot compromise. The rest of the world is not compromising,” he said.The Opposition is not interested in compromising.
Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the house committee that oversees transportation policy, quickly blasted the plan. “Rather than focusing on the Northeast Corridor, the most congested corridor in the nation and the only corridor owned by the federal government, the administration continues to squander limited taxpayer dollars on marginal projects,” he said.Would the right honorable gentleman be willing to review the Federal Railroad Administration's safety regulations, to permit faster operation of trains on the existing tracks?
In New Hampshire, the Opposition is not interested in providing commuter rail service to Boston.
The plan would extend Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Lowell Line from Lowell, Mass., to Nashua, N.H.This private sector talk is misleading ... where are the private sector roads in New Hampshire? Perhaps the commuter service does not have a positive benefit-cost ratio, but let's evaluate the project on that basis, not on some faith in invisible hands against a history of using public money on internal improvements.
“If it made sense, the private sector would do it,” said Rep. Donald McGuire, R-Epsom, author of the bill to shut down the extension. McGuire’s bill would repeal the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority, which the legislature created four years ago with bipartisan support from Nashua-area legislators.
And let's evaluate the benefit-cost ratios on a sensible basis. In National Review, Wendell Cox (via Newmark's Door) sees nothing but doom behind Passenger Rail projects.
Among intercity transport modes, only Amtrak is materially subsidized. User fees pay virtually all the costs of airlines and airports, which (together with connecting ground transportation) link any two points in the nation within a day. The intercity highway system goes everywhere, and nearly all of it was built with user fees paid by drivers, truckers, and bus companies.The Interstate Highway System is nothing without the city street network, and last time I checked, property tax payers were being assessed for street repairs (and in most jurisdictions it's more than $40 per house and $115 per hotel). With the Little Ice Age setting in, states and cities are exceeding their budget for plowing and salting, and I don't see the invisible hand refilling those accounts. Again, if you want to call a service self-sustaining, make a proper accounting of the costs and benefits, and the hidden subsidies.
High-speed rail is a budget buster. Japan, with the world’s leading system, illustrates the financial devastation that high-speed rail can produce. For 25 years, Japan borrowed to build a system serving the ideal rail corridor, nestled along a single coast with a population of more than 75 million people. Ridership was artificially increased by high gasoline prices and one of the highest highway tolls in the world. Yet this modest system, only twice as long as proposed California system, played a major role in driving up a gargantuan rail debt that was transferred to Japanese taxpayers. The rail debt added more than 10 percent to the national debt. This is akin to adding $1.4 trillion to the U.S. national debt.Perhaps so. On a fully allocated benefit-cost basis, passenger rail might still be a proper use of resources. Rail passengers can avoid parking charges ... I once astonished a British O Scaler who was attempting to make sense of London's urban access charges with my description of Chicago parking charges and the effect those had on Metra ridership; that, yes, and rail passengers are able to work from their seats without being traffic hazards. Without being annoying is another matter, the Metra monthly commuter newsletter is full of whinges about cell-phone yakkers and self-important types who turn the walkover seats to create a small office.
Virtually everywhere high-speed rail has been constructed, financial liability has fallen to the taxpayers. In Taiwan and the United Kingdom, taxpayers assumed billions of dollars in private debts for much more modest high-speed-rail systems than Japan’s.