High Speed Trains And Stupid Solutions

The feds, since 1991, have had a plan  of creating high speed rail corridors throughout the nation including one between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and since Obama took office $8 billion has been shoved into this opium-pipe dream with billions more expected although that hope may change come November.

Texas and the Sourth outside Florida haven’t gotten much of this loot for some strange reason albeit Pennsylvania’s not much ahead nabbing a paltry $25.6 million for the Keystone Corridor project.

Grand schemes like this would be great if resources were infinite and the simple building of it was the hardest and most expensive part. The real problems, however, start after the tracks are laid and the shiny new stations open, namely getting people to use it. Remember these things are being built not with the jaundiced eye of someone weighing the risks to his own time and money against the benefits of possible future rewards, but in accordance with starry visions of bureaucrats and trained academic parrots who have literally nothing to lose in the construction.

So the only way people are going to use this thing is by discouraging them — them not including the bureaucrats and parrots — from using alternatives namely the planes and automobile parts of the story.

Hmmmm, you think that might happen?

A much better way of improving transportation efficiency would be to use that money for our highways. That $8 billion could turn a whole lot of  turnpikes into freeways eliminating artificial traffic bottlenecks and general headaches. Or if construction is what one desires, there are plenty of places where the money could be used to improve traffic flow cutting commuter time and saving gasoline. 

Consider Route 322 in Delaware County, Pa. Coming north from I-95 it hits Route 1 in Concord, follows that road south for a couple of miles until it reaches Route 202 at a massive bottleneck of an intersection where it then follows 202 north into Chester County before getting exclusive use of  blacktop.

What if the some of the money Obama wants to use on choo choos was spent sending Route 322 directly into Route 202 with a cloverleaf at Route 1. If the money was properly used those whose land would be needed for the project would have big smiles on their faces after negotiations for it, and dollars to donuts say more time and gas would be saved than a bullet train to Pittsburgh.

And situations like this can be found throughout the nation. But cars mean freedom whereas trains mean control.

And this does not mean that trains are bad or that passenger trains don’t have their purpose. Something else to ponder — America’s freight railroads are owned and operated by private companies. In Europe, they are owned and operated by government. In the 1950s, the percent of freight shipped was about the same. Today, about 38 percent of freight is shipped on railroads in the U.S. compared to 8 percent in the European Union.  

Maybe to make passenger trains viable again, we should get the government out of Amtrak.

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