Opposition to High Speed Rail Grows

The St. Louis Post Dispatch characterizes high speed rail as a “bridge to the 19th century,” in noting its opposition.

I couldn’t have said it better, though I tried in my Wall Street Journal Oped (“Runaway Subsidy Train”). As usual, some of the best lines in this article fell on the “cutting room floor,” as editors can allow only so many words. The two most important points were:

  • Significant community opposition is developing. Within the last 10 days there have been community and neighborhood protests against new high speed rail lines in France, Italy, Spain and Hong Kong. Further, opposition to the greenhouse gas belching Mag Lev (magnetic levitation) extension from Shanghai to Hangzhou (China) has blocked that project. There is a burgeoning opposition to the swath that high speed rail will cut through the communities on the peninsula south of San Francisco.
  • A traveler using high speed rail from Orlando to Tampa who gets caught at a rental car counter line might not save any time over driving even if the train reached the speed of light.

The biggest problem with high speed rail is that it requires huge expenditures of public funding in a market (intercity passenger transport) that does not require subsidies. Much of the impetus comes from generous donations to political campaigns by vendors who live off public funding and by a naive cadre of virtual sheep who believe anything that runs on rails walks on water.