Monday, February 1, 2010

Runaway Train

Wendell Cox writes in the WSJ about the runaway subsidy train [emphasis added]:
In the other corridors where the administration plans to spend money—such as Charlotte to Raleigh and Chicago to St. Louis—projected train speeds won't be much faster than what the fastest trains in the 1930s were able to do. Some trains then topped 80 mph. As a result, car trips will normally be as fast door to door, and they will be far less costly than taking the train and then renting a car.

There is no need to subsidize intercity travel. Flyers pay for virtually all of the costs of running the airline system, including airports and air traffic control. Gasoline taxes and highway tolls built and maintain intercity roadways, and they also support mass transit with $10 billion in subsidies annually. Intercity buses require no taxpayer funds.

Only rail requires heavy subsidies. At the end of the day, the great danger is that true high-speed rail could cost taxpayers even more than the tens of billions in subsidies that have been paid to Amtrak since the 1970s.

Mr. Obama said in Tampa last week that we are "falling behind" other countries in high-speed rail. With a record budget deficit, it makes sense to fall behind in spending on high-speed rail that we don't need with money we don't have.

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