President Barack Obama promised to develop America’s first nationwide program of intercity high-speed passenger rail. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has called the plan “a game changer” that “will help change our society for the better.” The administration has already awarded $10.5 billion dollars in stimulus money to help pay for 54 rail projects in 23 states. $2.5 billion of that was doled out just last week.
But not everyone is eager to climb aboard. In Ohio, Governor-elect John Kasich has been quoted as saying, “Passenger rail is not in Ohio’s future.” Ohio was slated to get $400 million in federal funds for passenger trains between Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland. Kasich minced no words in talking about the project. “That train is dead,” he said.
In Wisconsin, the state department of transportation has now stopped all work on a high-speed rail line between Madison and Milwaukee. In a memo to project contractors and consultants, the Wisconsin Transportation Secretary told them to stop work for a “few days.” The memo indicated the temporary halt was “in light of the election results.”
Why do Republicans hate trains? Is this really just a situation in which Democrats and Europeans find value in trains, so therefore it is un-American to ride trains? Is it because the people who will benefit most live in urban areas and don’t vote Republican? Did they watch their parents get murdered by a rogue Conductor? Do they all just hate Atrios? Or is it because of something else? They’ll green-light hundreds of billions (and fight for it) in road construction, but then get the vapors over 400 million in funds for rail.
I’d kill to have train access 1/10th as good as Germany.
Trains are for fags and soshulusts.
Real Americans drive their cars whereever, whenever they want no matter the cost because FREEEEEEEEEEDOOOOOOOOOM
I think the question is, who would you kill JC? and how would you kill them?
I have no fucking clue why they hate trains, but I wish they would get over it cause its idiotic.
Have these assclowns noticed that train ridership is up?
Republicans hate trains for the same reason they hate healthcare reform. Because they don’t have well heeled railroad lobbyists sucking their cocks and well heeled railroads filling their campaign coffers and pushing them to support trains.
It’s that simple.
Mike in NC
Maybe they get nightmares about all those Western movies where a bunch of Indians or — even worse — Mexican banditos on horseback attack the train to rob the gallant white folk, and kidnap their women.
I saw much of the US and Canada from train windows when I was a little girl; most of the UK and bits of Europe from trains as an adult. I adore train travel. Have never understood why there’s so much political opposition to it — you’d think this just might be one area that could be free of partisanship, but apparently not. Sad.
You Don't Say
It’s fucking insane. Why do people put up with assholes like that? Politics as punishment. Punishment for the people he is supposed to represent. Asshole.
My thoughts and sympathy go out to the good people in Wisconsin and Ohio who saw through the idiocy and voted for the Democrats. A new and vibrant infrastructure is, to say the least, the real engine of economic prosperity. Tax cuts for the very wealthiest that may trickle down one of these years– hey not so much.
I feel heartburn just thinking about this….
Republicans hate trains because Republicans are assholes.
It’s that simple.
The Republican Party had a collectively bad experience with a train back in 1907. It’s mentally scarred the whole party ever since.
@DonBelacquaDelPurgatorio: And needless to say, back when they did the LOVED ’em some trains.
Here’s the cynical answer: oil companies donate to Republicans and have a vested interest in more cars and more roads, so that’s why they favor roads over trains.
A less cynical answer is that they think most people (and it’s very true here in southern California) rely on their cars and roads more than other forms of public transportation. In their minds, the market has spoken and it has called for more cars and more roads.
France has trains, and they are french, frenchity french french.
That is all you need to know.
That and trains carry poor people,
Suck It Up!
Maybe they don’t want undesirables moving into their pristine communities. Those undesirables tend to vote Democratic you know
Oregon will be more than happy to take the money and add it to high speed rail because I know we could use it.
It strikes me that this is an issue that can really be good for Dems. Jobs, infrastructure, nationalism, hearkening back to the good ol’ days of the 50’s building the interstate system, putting blue collar Americans to productive work that can’t be shipped overseas. It’s a winner politically.
They don’t like it because they’re afraid it’s a good idea. And it’s not their idea because they are beholden to the oil and gas industries. So, more cars and roads it is.
It’s a project Obama wants done.
Anything Obama wants, the Republicans will deny it to him and to everyone else who will benefit.
It has nothing to do with energy saved, jobs created, improvements to rail made. It has everything to do to make Obama look more like a failure before 2012 so they can beat him and win the White House.
The Republicans don’t care about governance. They only care about winning elections. As though being winners and “being popular with the voters” is all that mattered. When they die, they want their scorecards mounted into their tombstones.
joe from Lowell
Because they love auto-dependent sprawl, believing it to be the only appropriate way for Americans to live.
Arthur Levitt, of Levittown fame, used to argue in favor of suburban sprawl on the grounds that single-family homes kept families apart by providing no common areas, thus reducing the opportunity for working-class people to engage in subversive talk.
Have you ever read “The Fountainhead?” Howard Roarke designs a novel vacation resort that is the spitting image of a post-war suburban subdivision, and Rand glories in the wonderfulness of an environment in which nobody encounters any other people or shares any common facilities.
I was wondering about that. Any chance Ohio’s HSR money could get redirected here to California for our own high speed rail projects?
Actually, interesting history of trains in the US that might interested readers here. Following desegregation when black people could ride on the same trains as white people the US government dropped all funding for trains and subsidized air travel (too expensive for blacks, generally) and highways (where you didn’t have to share space with blacks). So, opposition to trains is more dog whistles for “white society”.
C Nelson Reilly
Frank Luntz claims the word “train” reminds people of “train wreck” which real Americans associate with the Republican party.
Most of them think that the only people who ride trains are poor smelly people. They believe that all but the poorest Americans have a car, and car driving is obviously better than sharing a train, so trains are just a backdoor subsidy for poor people and wealthy unions.
I grew up in NJ and saw lots of doctors, engineers, and lawyers riding the train to NYC every damn day. But it seems like that phenomena is a lot less common in the midwest.
It’s simple, this will create jobs by denying them to Ohio and Wisconsin and continue to fund Wahhabist in Saudi Arabia through out petroleum based economy.
This has been another chapter of “Idiocracy Shrugged.”
Because high speed rail serves cities where the Democrats live. Governor elect Cuomo has already sent a letter to the Secretary of Transportation saying, in effect, “Dude, we’ll take the money that was supposed to go to Ohio and Wisconsin.”
This one. Unless the Average American Voter can see train tracks from his or her window, trains have no perceived usefulness or value, and are understood to be makework projects for shiftless urbanites.
Much better to take that money and invest it in developing bigger SUVs that guzzle gas more voraciously.
mem from somerville
When I was in the UK this summer people would ask me, “Do you drive?” as if it was an option…. And we went all over the place on trains, with frequent service and good schedule choices.
I am a huge fan of public transportation and use it whenever possible. But it is definitely not always possible. Even here in a pretty well-served area.
The only thing they hate worse than trains is light rail.
You Don't Say
How soon they forget. My grandfathers worked on Burlington Northern and Union Pacific, supported families during the Depression and in fact supported my mother’s mother for the rest of her life after my grandfather passed away from TB at a relatively young age. My father, a lifelong Republican, put himself through college, before the war, laying track during the summer. After the war, he finished school on the GI Bill.
They secretly enjoy being fondled by airport screeners?
Poor people – primarily minorities – ride trains.
Yes, the Chicago-to-New Orleans Amtrak route, for instance. I, personally, love the Amtrak, if it weren’t held up by commercial traffic because people moving people to and from their destinations is obviously not as important as moving other stuff.
Ann B. Nonymous
I do hope a small devil didn’t appear on your shoulder when you said that. But if one did, I could compile a little list…
If may be that they think trains are for low class people who cannot afford cars and drive everywhere like Real Americans, or buy plane tickets and fly – the people who ride Greyhound buses.
A real situation ;like this exists in Los Angeles where the public bus system rather sucks and is mostly used by the poorest segment of the city. Since this segment has little political power there is no push to improve the service past the point of it working well enough to get maids to the homes that they clean. No incentive to make it faster or less inconvenient.
Transportation by rail stifles individual freedoms. Ruby slippers are where it’s at.
Huh. I can believe it.
Trains are the preferred mode of commuting in Western Europe, Japan, Taiwan, etc. So American exceptionalism dictates that it not be allowed to succeed in the United States. Except for the Northeast corridor, which is already too far gone towards a socialist paradise.
I would gladly assist Mr. Cole in his murderous rampage if we could get the U.S. and Canadian governments to work on a high speed rail system connecting the Northeast, Midwest, and Ontario/Quebec so we could reduce some of the traffic on the highway system and put a dent in the insane crowding at major airports. If I could get to NYC from Toronto on a TGV, that would be fantastic.
Forget high speed, how about just a dedicated track between the Portland Station and the Washington state line? I had to sit on the bridge for two hours , less than 20 miles from the station, after a two hour trip from Seattle. While the hold up? Freight trains have priority.
I should add that you know who works on trains? Union workers. And we know what the GOP thinks of them.
It’s nice not to be all alone with a Rightie govenor. NJ doesn’t need train money, Christie dumped the tunnel.
These govenors need to pay consequences for harming the people in their states.
@Maude: The tunnel is coming back, isn’t it?
J sub D
Dunno ’bout Republicans, but I’m not too enamored by taxpayer subsidized, underutilized 19th century transportation technology used mostly by the middle and upper classes as inter city “high speed” rail will be.
Build a passenger rail project that comes in under budget (hell, on budget would be a big win) that meets or exceeds ridership projections, that has maintenance and operating costs that are the same or lower than projected and maybe we can hire those folks to design, build and operate another.
Rail enthusiasts ram their heads into the wall of costs and benefits again and again, always thinking that this time the bricks are going to yield.
Let’s get real. How many folks are going to ride the Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland route so they can rent a car when they get to their destination city?
Raise the gas tax by a couple of bucks a gallon and fund the roads with that. Not trains or barge canals or bicycle paths, roads paid for by the users. Turn limited access highways into toll roads and fund the interstate system that way. Use property assessments to fund the residential streets.
I know, I know, this time it will be different. Save your fingertips, I’ve heard it all before. “With this legislation AMTRAK will be self-sufficient by _________”.
I recently moved to the Milwaukee area and I was completely shocked how violently the Republicans objected to the proposed high speed rail project between Milwaukee and Madison. Our idiot Governor-elect campaigned on killing this project and now he is already maybe walking back his opposition
Dude, you answered your own question
Which means cars which means gas consumption which means BP is happy.
@DonkeyKong: Let’s not do something that would hurt the economy of Saudi Arabia. You win…
EDIT.. I only have one vote though.
John - A Motley Moose
Let’s see if the new GOP governor of Michigan is dumb enough to turn down federal funds for a high-speed train from Detroit to Chicago.
Someone please tell me what’s wrong with this:
Move the federal money for rail programs to states who embrace it and can show that it will help their infrastructure. For the ones with stupid state gov’ts who won’t accept it just bypass them and concentrate on those who will.
Yes, this will deepen the rift between more progressive and less progressive states, but I don’t want to become Alabama, do you?
Watch us evolve, motherfuckers.
Or is it because of something else?
Might be because the trains in the US are generally shitty.
Why not just hire the Japanese? They got this stuff all figured out.
@J sub D:
Amtrak could be self-sufficient just by completing the line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Especially if they attach a bar car.
But, huh, funny, Republicans keep blocking the funding for what would be an immensely popular and profitable rail line and insisting that Amtrak spend all of its money on money-losing lines first. Almost like they’re deliberately trying to kill Amtrak or something.
Nope, that can’t be it. It must be because trains are completely useless and 19th century and all of those other countries that use them successfully are just blind to how pointless they are.
You know who else would kill to have train access 1/10th as good as Germany’s?
Also, roads use asphalt which use oil which…
Strange question. Republicans hate public transportation for the same reason they hate public schools, public beaches and public health care. And, I assume, public toilets.
@J sub D: The middle class is suffering enough without additional taxes planted squarely on their backs. You work in construction and need your truck..no problem, pay more for gas and btw we are raising taxes on your property and everything else.
J sub D
California high-speed rail ridership forecast not reliable, study finds
@J sub D: It’s called Europe. Works there, why not in the USA? Because of Freedom ™ ? Or Stupid ™?
jake the snake
@You Don’t Say:
My maternal grandfather worked for L&N all his life.
My mother’s brother went to Auburn on the GI bill,and
worked for L&N until he retired.
At the height of the gilded age, railroads basically ran California.
There is just not any big money in railroads to buy congress today like there is in oil, banking, pharma and insurance.
Republican politicians hate trains because:
1. Democrats like them
2. They are communitarian. Everyone rides together in basically the same conditions and sometimes you even have to sit next to someone you don’t know. You’d never have to do that in a car!
3. They benefit cities and people who cannot afford cars or air travel.
@D-boy: I notice in that article that Andrew Cuomo has asked the federal government for the high-speed rail funds other states don’t want in order to connect NYC, upstate, Toronto and Montreal. I second what BGinCHI says, let New York, California, Massachusetts and the other blue states have the funds. If the Republicans want to compete on job creation, let their home districts see how well they can do on a steady diet of tax cuts and underfunded infrastructure.
Right now I’m living in Racine, Wisconsin. It is the 3rd biggest city in Wisconsin, in the middle between Milwaukee and Chicago. There’s a high unemployment rate here, as many factories have closed and/or laid off workers. I’ve been arguing the benefits of rail in the local newspaper comments section, against a lot of people who don’t seem to have experience with affordable and useful trains. Currently, prices to take a train from here to Chicago are *ridiculously* expensive – $30 round trip, lowest price. By car, it takes an hour to drive there. Access to the train is limited (I personally need to travel 15 miles to get to the train station, and late-night trips are non-existent to that stop), making travel via train much less practical. Train travel in the US can be a MUCH better experience. For example, I did train-based commuting and other travel in the NYC/New Jersey area for years, and the prices of travel were only around $5 per hour of travel. Trains had convenient schedules, and were highly accessible from city centers. Therefore, train transit is highly used and valued, by people who live there. My belief is that most of the people here who are against the train project haven’t lived somewhere trains really work, and need to be convinced that the trains will be affordable and practical to use. It’s a marketing issue, one that us train advocates need to work on.
Seriously, these people should be asked to sign a waiver (under video recording) saying that they do not want to use the money and then some of us in blue state can get it.
Then when we increase employment and also reduce road costs and what not and save money, we will toot our horn and thank Wisconsin or Minnesota for the money that they gave up as it improved our economy.
LA is a perfect example of a poorly planned train system. That shit makes it look bad for everyone else. They should have replaced the streetcars.
Imagine how much better movies would be.
@Moses2317: They’re not all communitarian. There are different classes of service, just like with airlines.
Yes, both, plus trains are seen as greener than cars, and it’s important to piss off liberals.
Or you could just move to NYC.
Yeah, that works too… better than building a new bridge over the Columbia in my opinion, although I hear that they might add light rail which I think would be perfect. Funding has been kind of thorny though. (from the washington side)
J sub D
Better to tax them for a train they won’t use?
What is wrong with user pays? Liberals have been screaming for decades that we don’t have gas taxes that discourage automobile use like in Europe (liberals like themselves some European lifestyles), I’m making a serious proposal to make the users pay that would also reduce the deficit, fix the road maintenance shortfalls and
reduceeliminate non-drivers having to subsidize transportation infrastructure they don’t use.
What the hell is wrong with this other that there is no money hemorrhaging passenger rail system included?
Jrod the Cookie Thief
@J sub D: We don’t need a new gas tax for gas to rise by a couple bucks a gallon. We only have to wait a few more years.
Also, what the hell is with the “19th century tech” crap? Nobody is talking about building steam locomotives. Are the supertrains in Japan that travel over 200mph 19th century technology? Do they have a coal car where people constantly shovel the stuff into a furnace?
I’ll never understand how our country can have 10% unemployment, yet people will find any excuse to avoid creating new infrastructure, even when our existing systems are rapidly crumbling. I guess Americans would prefer to save $10 on their annual taxes then have working roads, sewers, and trains while providing jobs for hundreds of thousands of people.
Americans are fucking stupid.
Did you know that asphalt is the number one most recycled product in the US? Not that it negates your point or anything, just an interesting factoid.
It’s how they view public utilities, at least in the modern context. Public utilities, and the subsidies involved, are fine so long as very wealthy men can skim off the top. Whenever you hear conservative politicians complain about how a particular program is inefficient or a “waste of tax dollars” it usually means that a private sector ally of theirs isn’t allowed to reap huge profits off the public dime.
Nuclear power, for instance, can not exist without massive state subsidies. Construction and maintenance costs are simply too high for private investors to find it worthwhile. Yet Republicans want more nuclear power, but only if those subsidies come with no strings attached. If we set up a non-profit nuclear power network, or one under direct state control like they have in France, they’ll turn against it in a heartbeat as a “waste of tax dollars.”
The same is true for Medicare Advantage, the program that saw massive cuts under the ACA. It’s a horribly inefficient means of providing insurance, precisely because the private insurers who receive the subsidies skim off the top, but Republicans wanted to preserve it precisely because it is (or was) such a massive giveaway to for-profit insurers.
Trains have been a heavily regulated public utility since about the turn of the last century. Gone are the days of extremely large and anticompetitive railroad trusts milking the system for all it is worth. They hate that. And the irony is it was a Republican who changed the way railroads operated.
@J sub D:
If I take a train from Los Angeles to San Jose, it will take 10 hours to get there. If I drive from LA to San Jose, it will take about 6.
If there was high-speed rail that would get me between those two places in the amount of time it would take me to drive, I sure as hell would do it.
@J sub D:
If they had decent public transport they could use that in the city. Or there are things like zipcars that work well as well. I plan on visiting Vancouver, B.C. by cycle. Take the train with my cycle and then go around.. the public transport in Vancouver is that good.
J. Michael Neal
@J sub D:
Fortunately, those people exist. You want the folks that designed and built the light rail line between downtown Minneapolis and the airport, as well as the Northstar line, which is commuter rail between downtown and the northwest suburbs. Both meet your criteria.
Of course, those people are now busy working on a line connecting downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul.* Which is just as well, since, as you may notice, we can’t build high speed rail between the Twin Cities and anywhere else without going through states with enough idiots to elect GOP governors who will do whatever they can to prevent the projects.** Wisconsin? Check. Iowa? Check. The Dakotas? Check.
*There is one serious issue to resolve, but it has nothing to do with the typical problems with building rail. The rational route between the downtowns runs right through a bunch of the science buildings at the University of Minnesota. The vibrations produced by trains would play havoc with sensitive experiments. The new I-35 bridge was built with capacity for the line to send it down an alternate route, but then the university spent $250 million to build a new football stadium which screwed that up. I’m confident something will get resolved, but it’s still at the negotiations stage.
**That’s right, cheeseheads. I’m laughing at you. This will stop if Tom Emmer manages to find 9,000 votes between now and the recount, but the chances of that happening seem pretty slim.
from your favorite libertarian blog, the ironically named “Reason” The Pragmatic Case Against High-Speed Rail:
i assume libertarians are against airports, too.
@Jrod the Cookie Thief: 19th century technology.
I say we dump it.
Amen.. I look forward to off-shoring stupidity to red states.
there’s a Marge Schott joke in there, but it eludes me.
@J sub D:
How do you know for sure that they won’t use a train that doesn’t actually exist yet?
I also love how your answer for people who won’t be able to afford to pay the higher gas taxes but still need to get to their jobs is, “Better start walking now, then,” since your plan will simultaneously eliminate public transportation and even bike paths since making people who don’t use them pay taxes to build them is horrible and unAmerican.
@cleek: Don’t these guys ever go to Europe?
Where do they vacation, compounds in the Dominican Republic?
Let’s start building these along high-traffic routes and we’ll see who is begging for them next.
I’ll take Chicago to Denver at 300 MPH please!
J sub D
@Cain: You want decent public transit in big cities? Get the government out of providing it. Require proof of insurance and anyone can operate a jitney, any route, any time, anything they want to charge. The minimal license fee for this is only to cover the costs of insurance verification.
Let jitney chaos reign.
@J sub D:
They said that about the MAX in Oregon and ridership is up. The key thing is that it really must be super fast otherwise it will fail. For instance, I think we could increase the MAX 10 fold if it had an express line which would whisk you to downtown in 10-15 minutes. But they didn’t design it that way. Americans are impatient and if we can design something that will take us there quickly then that’s going to be great.
They could add a bar car, and even a shopping/gift shop car to get more revenue as well. Drinking on the train will be popular.
@Jrod the Cookie Thief:
Do they have a coal car where people constantly shovel the stuff into a furnace?
No, but they do have population densities that make trains more practical. Plus an infastructure of buses and taxis and bike parking lots at stations.
@J sub D: OK, now we know the J stands for “jitney.” What’s the D for?
Dear Ohio and Wisconsin,
You don’t want the money and the jobs? That’s cool, Maryland would love to have your share of the cash. I would be thrilled by better train service between Baltimore and DC. I would easily double or triple my visits to B’more if I didn’t have to drive there, or park, because the parking’s awful. I’m talking $20-$30 just to park for a few hours in the Inner Harbor. So yes, please hand over those funds!
You Don't Say
@jake the snake: I know I’m just wallowing in nostalgia. Shit like this just infuriates me.
I agree with you. If that high speed rail stimulus money eventually goes to other states that will use it then the people of Wisconsin and Ohio will have to live with their choice
Serious? Sure, a higher gas tax would make sense, but who’s going to vote for it? They didn’t have the votes for something like that in the last congress- when the new bunch roll up in their Klown Kars to be sworn in this January, do you think they would vote for a gas tax? Seriously?
@D-boy: Elections have consequences.
Or, as Red said to Eric in That 70s Show: “Your side lost: now everybody cries.”
Against much opposition and despite many declarations of DOOM! DOOOOOMMMM!, they built a light rail line in Phoenix, AZ.
In its second year of operation, ridership is up 53% over the original projections.
Oh, but Reason tells us it’s actually a total failure because it’s only reducing traffic congestion within the metro area and not reducing congestion between, say, Phoenix and Tuscon, even though that’s not what it was actually designed to do. And people are using it for fun so they can go to local restaurants and theaters, not to get back and forth to work like good corporate drones! Clearly, it sucks!
Way to move the goalposts, Reasonoids!
That’s a lot of stupid packed in two sentences.
I’m interested to see how the debate changes once airlines shit the bed.
Let’s see, take a $2000 flight from Seattle to San Francisco or take the train for $250. Hmmm.
Yeah, but once you got there, how would you get around?
That turned up in the article I found about the Phoenix system, too. It’s a bizarre claim: “Rail systems should be what my ideal is, and if there are successful rail systems that don’t fit the parameters of my ideal, then they don’t really count as rail systems!”
@J sub D:
This doesn’t make sense. How can the government not be involved when it comes to acquiring the land to build the tracks?
Max has worked quite well for us in Portland. I can’t say for Chicago and other places that have older systems. As for jitney, it might be possible that works but it has the downside that we’re still consuming gas. Secondly, in places like Portland it doesn’t add much value. You don’t hail a taxi here, you call for one. So a jitney would make no sense in Portland, there won’t be enough customers to make it worthwhile.
Dumbass? (Just because “libertarian” doesn’t have a “d” in it)
Buses. Light rail. Taxis. They actually have a pretty good public transportation system from San Jose all the way up to San Francisco. I once stayed with friends in Cupertino and we were able to take the train right into the city.
Wife just stopped her monthly downtown garage parking contract ($190/month, $100 subsidized by the firm) for the local light rail ($70/month, fully subsidized by the firm). Light rail picks up less than 5 minutes from the house, she has a four-block walk to the office.
Most of the time I take her to the station if I’ll need the vehicle, sometimes she just parks it at the pickup. There’s also a shuttle bus three blocks from the house that synchs with arrival/departure times, if needed.
Service started less than a year ago. Ridership started out slow, but is now getting to standing-room only. They already have other cars they can add, if need be.
$6 roundtrip, downtown to the house. She reads a book, de-stresses from a hard day, and feels sorry for the poor bastards locked up in rush hour traffic, wasting their money on gas.
This is Austin, Texas.
The US does have a network of relatively low cost, nationwide rapid transportation. They’re called Aircraft.
For regional inter-city travel(i.e. Chicago to Milwaukee) there’s this thing called a bus, very low cost.
There is also the fact that trains give the most benefit (over cars anyway) in between metro centers that are close together. Places that have chronic traffic congestion. So, CA, New England and maybe the Atlantic seaboard.
Midwest towns, well spread out between each other generally already have decent highways and won’t see much benefit from rails.
It may be a bit superficial, but Red states see high speed rail as a gift to liberal electorates. (Also, high speed rail connections to the “liberal core” of Austin would probably purple up some of the more deeply entrenched red areas. )
I rode the Phoenix light rail from the airport to downtown and back during a trip. It rocks.
ETA: I have also been a rider at times of the El in Chicago and the North Shore from Indiana into Chicago. If I were a commuter, I would rather bite nails than try to negotiate Chicago traffic on a daily basis.
I read a news column about this a couple weeks ago, think it was NY Times. Wish I could remember where I saw it.
Anyway, it’s because trains by their very nature are “socialist.” Sorta like how this British guy says he hates buses. At least he’s honest about it:
“And finally I hate buses because they are the symbol of a socialist society where people rely on the state to provide transport.”
My comment is awaiting moderation. I didn’t even cuss.
Anyone have the list of no-no words that cause one’s comment to be quarantined?
Think of someone saying the same thing about the interstate highway system, which has as much basis in fact.
You are now eligible for the grand prize.
Midwest towns, well spread out between each other generally already have decent highways and won’t see much benefit from rails.
That’s not the case the the upper Midwest/Great Lakes area of the midwest. Certainly there are a lot of potential connections from Chicago to various points in Indiana and Ohio.
You need to add in Chicago/Milwaukee/Twin Cities to that estimation. Chicago/Indianapolis/St. Louis would be a good corridor as well. When I lived at home, I would take the Amtrak from Chicago down to Champaign/Urbana to visit my friends at college.
People tend to forget that the Midwest ain’t that rural. We have big and medium-sized cities, too, you know.
@John – A Motley Moose:
He might not be (he at least seemed semi-supportive in the campaign), but I’m sure the new Rep majorities in the legislature will be, and I doubt Snyder will pick a fight with them over this. Besides, they’ll be too busy cutting taxes and programs. Only the State Police, prisons, and highway construction and maintenance outside of a 20-mile radius around Detroit being off-limits. Well, the 20-mile radius will have to be extended a bit in one direction to make sure the People’s Republic of Ann Arbor doesn’t get any money.
did you mention footwear or male enhanc3ment products? or soc1alism (spelled without the number 1)?
There’s a complete list here. And “Moderation” is an entry in the BJ lexicon (up top on the right).
Polish the Guillotines
Everyone knows railroads are built by shifty Chinamen and drunken Irishmen. Not in MY America, mister.
@kdaug: When I lived in Toronto I used the subway and street cars (and they had electric buses too but now those are gone).
Street cars need to return. If you’ve used them in Toronto or in Europe you know they’re a great happy medium. Oh, Portland too.
The problem here is going from nothing to something. For folks who can’t imagine getting around, say, Tulsa or Dallas with all of these methods, that’s because those cities have completely turned their back on mass transit. Let’s develop this where people embrace it and let the chips fall where they may.
When gas goes through the roof their economies will collapse.
Except for jitneys, of course.
The interstate highway system was the biggest taxpayer giveaway to Big Oil and the auto industry this nation ever produced.
@SpotWeld: I believe the calculation is that that HSR saves money and time vis a vis air travel on trips that HSR can complete in four hours or less. Chicago to Madison, check. Chicago to Minneapolis, probably. Columbus, OH, to Minneapolis, no. Chicago to LA, certainly not.
Davis X. Machina
Try 18 months. Every school system I’ve talked to has a contingency plan for 4-day weeks ready to roll. The necessity of having to absorb a 25% increase in the cost of running buses, on short notice, isn’t hard to fathom. They can hedge their fuel costs 6 mo. out, tops.
licensed to kill time
You can check in the Lexicon under M for Moderation, or here’s a link. FYWP!
eta: Garrrh! AWSP types faster than me! :)
That’s not what will happen. They’ll create private firms that will handle prisons and cops. Boy oh boy, crime will be something for profit..how does that grab ya?
Yes, yes I did.
Okay, let me try it again: someone — New York Times I believe — did a column about 2 weeks ago on exactly this topic: “Why Do Republicans Hate Trains”? The answer, of course, is that trains are soc1alist.
Wish I could find the column. My Google-fu is DOA today.
I have been saying this for years and now sound like a broken record. As was said upthread “do you drive” is an honest question in the UK, I didn’t learn to drive until I was 28 (and only because I was in the Navy and got fed up of lugging my suitcases through train stations) My mother (who is 76) has never learned to drive, because there has always been a bus stop outside her house (or within a few houses) to enable her to get into town, and trains get her everywhere else she needs to go. I keep asking the question about unemployed people. If you don’t have a job you therefore don’t have the money to buy a car, if you don’t have a car and there is no public transportation in your area then how the hell are you supposed to get to a job? They have recently begun a bus service here in our area and all of the reviews have been great, people who previously would have to take a cab to their jobs and to places like grocery stores now have a way to get where they are going without paying exhorbitant cab fares. If you are working a minimum wage job, and having to take a cab there and back, then you are basically working for nothing. The lack of public transportation in the country, IMO, has a great deal to do with the unemployment rate. You have to give people the way to GET TO WORK, before you will ever begin to cure the unemployment rate.
joe from Lowell
@J sub D:
You’ve got to be kidding me. You go off on a tear about over-budget boondoggles, and then say you want highway projects?
You know, like the Big Dig? Or the Bridge to Nowhere?
BTW, even Rick Perry’s Texas DOT acknowledges that road projects don’t pay for themselves.
I knew it was recycled; didn’t know it was Number 1, though.
I talked to some workers that were ripping up some old asphalt; asked them how much was reused and how much of the new road could be recycled asphalt. I forget what the mix was, but it was surprisingly low recycled. And it’s still the Number 1? Interesting.
Let’s build the trains between the big cities on the coasts and let the Jesus freaks in the Midwest and South ride around in horse and buggies like they should.
@Davis X. Machina:
The only way to fund schools is to probably put their budget up to vote for the general public with the consequences and why it went up. Once it goes down in flames, just do exactly what the consequences was. That should piss people off with children fairly quickly. :-)
J sub D
@J sub D: California is a complicated transportation market. In addition to high-speed rail you have commuter rail build-out in SoCal and Bay area, and light rail in LA and SF and SD.
The high-speed projections depend on what happens at each end, and that’s all in flux right now. SoCal commuter rail doesn’t have enough demand because there’s so little demand that they can’t run trains conveniently often.
Mass transit is very much a chicken-egg problem, but there are things being done. One is that (due to the budget) cities are putting significantly higher costs on urban drivers in areas with mass transit. I expect that Democrats are going to push that much faster along, so that the cost of maintaining and building roads gets the same cost recovery as mass transit. Those kinds of efforts will significantly start to shift the equation toward mass transit.
The high-speed rail effort needs to come with a corresponding local rail initiative. In SoCal, where build-out really isn’t that bad, that’s mostly just getting more trains running, not laying more track. LA has done a decent job with their light rail efforts, and if they start putting market prices on parking like what SF is doing, that’ll really help boost that effort. The bay area is in better shape on rail, thankfully, and volume of riders will solve most of their issues.
If Vegas could get a decent downtown mass transit initiative (and they might already, I’ve not been there in years) then that too would be a huge route.
But CA will take every penny that other states reject.
@Litlebritdifrnt: Why don’t the unemployed just drive to work like regular Americans?
/ Scrooge McTeabagger
joe from Lowell
@J sub D:
Yes, the solution to urban traffic problems is to close down the trains and get them onto the roads.
Which totally won’t require expensive urban road projects, where are always on time and under budget.
Maybe they subconsciously realize that if we built high speed rail from DC to Boston that it would make living here so awesome that Real Americans would be jealous?
joe from Lowell
@joe from Lowell:
OK, so using my income tax dollars for a rail system on the other side of the country is a nasty subsidy, but using my gas tax dollars for a road project in the same place isn’t?
You mean like the Jesus freaks who first sent our POTUS to the Ill. statehouse, or Al Franken to the U.S. Senate?
FSM, that’s a stupid generalization.
joe from Lowell
I was a daily reader of Reason’s blog for 7-1/2 years. They published precisely zero (0) pieces against airport projects during that time, while frequently citing the existence of air travel as an argument against rail.
@J sub D: What is wrong with user pays?
We don’t have user-pays for roads or air travel. We never will. So, given that we’re not going to have user pays for other forms of transportation, why insist on having it for trains? Seems kind of nutty.
But let’s everyone agrees with you and we don’t build any more train lines. How are you going to move people between cities? You’re going to have to spend a lot more money building roads. A train line can move a lot more people for a lot lower cost than an equivalent road.
@Nick: Don’t make me pull this comment section over and whup your ass.
I would be kind of curious to see how fast the trip from LA to Chicago would be via high-speed rail, actually. I made the drive in 18 hours one time. If you could get there in, say, 8-10 hours, some people would think it was worth it, especially now that you have to arrive at the airport two hours early to take a four-hour flight.
Did not know that. Never spent much time in San Jose. Does it go to the airport?
I’m no paving expert, but I believe most of the recycled asphalt is used for base. The smooth top coat requires better quality.
@Omnes Omnibus: Exactly.
If the unemployed drove to work, by definition, they’d have jobs.
friends live in a district that has cut funding for all HS sports. if you want your kid to play, you have to pay, and the cost runs into four digits for football or hockey. they pay it, and then complain about how cheap the school system is.
I want to hug you right now.
And enough with the “Jesus freaks” pejorative. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Jesus freak.
@joe from Lowell:
Stockholm Syndrome? Incarceration?
In Chicago, there’s an el train that goes directly into the airport. You can get off your plane, hop on the el, and head downtown.
By contrast, in Los Angeles, if you take the “airport” Green Line train, it ends about a mile away from the airport and you have to take a shuttle bus the rest of the way thanks to the entrenched interests. Damn jitneys.
Can we just all agree that Americans are going through a really whiny, spoiled stage right now? We got so used to having whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. We took a big F in civics and got disconnected from our government, thinking it was something other than US, WE THE PEOPLE. It’s some “thing” off somewhere, a building or something.
I think this is a direct relation to our relative prosperity and high standard of living.
As a Wisconsinite who’s royally pissed about this week’s events, part of me is looking forward to the financial repercussions of the state losing all the money and the jobs that HSR would create in construction and operation. Let’s see the Republicans explain why unemployment gets even worse under their watch. Unfortunately, the people that will suffer from those lost jobs aren’t necessarily the pricks who voted for Walker. People here in Madison were really looking forward to getting to Milwaukee quickly and easily for meetings, ball games, etc., without having to drive. It would also have been nice to get to Chicago on the train. Walker, of course, thinks he can persuade the feds to still give the state the money, just to use it for yet more road work. A local columnist pointed out a few weeks before the election that under this crop of Republicans, Wisconsin would have stayed out of the interstate highway system.
Christie killed it.
The Righties defend him saying that it’s the cost over runs.
It’s union labor that would build the tunnel.
Christie wants to run in 2012 as the anti union guy.
He’s a rat fink.
I call bullshit.
Isn’t that 116 MPH?
If true, please post a picture of your Supercar.
J sub D
@joe from Lowell:
I am not proposing that the road “pay for itself”, I’m proposing that automobile drivers and passengers pay for the damned roads they use.
I’ve yet to see a a passenger rail proposal that works with that goal in mind.
The big dig (aka Tip O’Neill memorial pork project) is possibly the quintessential government designed transportation project funded with other people’s money. The bridge to nowhere was simply a pork barrel boondoggle aided and abetted by the seniority system in the Senate.
I accept the reality of pork and government waste in all government funded/built infrastucture, roads, rails, canals, harbors, library internet, airports, the TVA etc. That does not change the equation on transportation bang for the buck nor does it address the user pays/free rider conundrum.
AMTRAK’s NE corridor is supposedly profitable, nobody wants to kill it. Intercity passenger rail in the less densly populated portions of the country (the rest) will no be for the foreseeable future.
Embrace the reality.
@The Dangerman: It varies a lot by area. Our city (county?) requires that it be recycled, and they now have machines that do it on-site. Basically they come through and scrape the top 3″ or so of the asphalt off, grind it up, chuck it into a hopper with some added tar and other goodies, heat it up, and lay it back down.
They do this to roads every 10 years. It requires relatively few new materials be added in (just tar and some additional asphalt due to loss).
The equipment is expensive up-front, but the cost to resurface roads is quite a bit cheaper this way.
Jitneys? Free Enterprise? Here’s a case study:
I once visited Santiago, Chile. In its Milton Friedmanesque glory, all bus (jitney) service was private, with multiple companies (some quite small) providing service. Problem was, they all competed only on the main drags, effectively clogging those roads. If you wanted to go somewhere else, you were just out of luck. It was horribly inefficient.
Not to mention, so many unregulated busses added to the air pollution.
You almost did.
When WI refused to raise the drinking age in the 80s, they had to be threatened with the loss of highway money.
I always admired them for that, as I used to drink up there before I was 21.
Americans are the dumbest fucking people on the planet.
And yeah, I’ve ridden the trains in China, along with the MTR in Hong Kong lots of times.
A wonderful way to travel.
@DonBelacquaDelPurgatorio: Yup, that’s what I was going to say. Redoublechins will love trains as soon as they’re paid to.
BTW I’m typing this comment on a TRAIN! Utah’s newish commuter rail, FrontRunner.
Oh they’ll just blame the Democrats! They always do! C’mon they blame Democrats for the U.S. economy still being in the shitter after Bush destroyed it and we’re STILL wasting money on our stupid wars!
BTW, the most hilarious thing about that fake “Obama’s trip to India is costing $200 million a day” thing? You know what IS costing $200 million a day? Or thereabouts? The war in Afghanistan. Be sure, when your Aunt Betsy brings this up over the Thanksgiving table, to remind her that a) the number was completely wrong and b) if she’s so danged concerned about the federal deficit the one place we CAN save $200 million a year is bringing the troops home from Afghanistan.
OK I’m ranting now. God I hate that.
EVERYBODY in DC uses the train. Fashionistas from Dupont Circle, old money from Chevy Chase, MD, young federal employees, retirees, kids going to and from school. I even saw me a bona fide 3-star general taking the Metro from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom.
Fuck the LA system, I tried to ride it back to Hollywood from LAX once, took me 2 and a half hours. Actually, the train never came. The 2 and half hours was spent waiting and then riding a bus.
Couple of yeas ago I sat next to a train expert dude on a flight from Tokyo to DC. I asked him why we didn’t just buy a Japanese system. His answer, paraphrased, “Japanese rely on careful scheduling, training and maintenance to achieve safety, in the US we want big heavy train cars that won’t kill everybody when they crash.”
Gas taxes. Wheel taxes. Car registration fees.
Toll roads do not pay for themselves. Invariably the cost of operating/maintaining the toll booths, paying employees, etc. makes them a money loser. Kentucky took most of their toll roads out.
I can’t help but feel a little schadenfreude when the voters who put these people in power take one right in the kisser mere days after the election…
$400 million for infrastructure upgrades and jobs? Fuck that says Governor Lehman Bros.
Let me add, whenever we travel me and the mr. use public transit. Heck we even used the Atlanta rail system. Very nice, clean, got us where we needed to go without hassling with parking, etc.
However, typical of Atlanta, there were television-style commercial advertisements thrown in your face everywhere. I know, all metro systems have advertising, but there was something especially obnoxious about Atlanta. The consumer BUY BUY BUY NOW YOU MUST BUY NOW messaging is *everywhere* in that city. It’s a little depressing.
@Gozer: Having a metro stop in the basement of your office building makes it much more convenient as the general knew.
They ever build a line to Tyson’s Corner where 25% of the tech in the country is done? As a former Tyson’s commuter I laugh and laugh and laugh when people in Seattle complain about traffic.
DC Metro is another example of a poorly designed system, they never figured out how to fund the thing. But at least it goes to an airport.
@BGinCHI: I wasn’t living here then, but I do remember WI being one of the last holdouts, and it was very much to our benefit down in the Chicago area. When I was in high school in the mid-80s we made many a trip to the liquor warehouses that were just over the border, ready and waiting for kids like us. We took home shopping carts full of booze.
Individuals are afraid of giving up the freedom which automobiles afford. Road-builders and energy companies hate trains because they’re much more efficient, and therefore require many fewer road builders and much less energy. Automobile companies hate trains because they are competition. There’s a huge amount of money made servicing auto-oriented infrastructure, and all those businesses and people are worried about their incomes and jobs.
Me, I go as the crow flies.
@Southern Beale: Rant away. I’ll scream with you. I momentarily forgot that it’s always the Democrats’ fault, some way, some how. And war is always free.
joe from Lowell
@J sub D:
No, you’re not. You’re proposing that every driver in the country put money into a big, federal pot, and then the feds dole out the money to the projects they choose. What you’re proposing is every bit as much a system of cross-subsidies as what we have now.
And that’s precisely what you propose we do instead of funding rail projects.
@Mako: Poorly designed how?
joe from Lowell
@J sub D:
The Great Lakes circuit and the Ohio River corridor have the same characteristics as the Northeast Corridor, but some Republican with an anti-rail, pro-car ideology just killed a proposal to build along it.
The comments on the actual linked article–from local Wis. residents–on how they feel about the recent elections and Walker’s trimming are just hysterical and fascinating. The teabaggers who can’t believe that their “one, true” conservative hero, Walker, is of course an opportunistic shit are out in force. Also the people who can’t grasp that if you ask for 3 million in stimulus money for *your* pet project (Sheboygan freight is a good project because it benefits private companies and not, say, citizens and travellers) you don’t have much of a leg to stand on when criticizing the spending of some other money on a different project on the grounds that its “wasteful/stimulus money” being used to “prop up” private industry.
The rail company should definitely move to New York, and so should the money itself. Hell, I’d like to see high speed rail between Boston and Montreal. Ship that money here.
J sub D
@joe from Lowell:
The subject here is intercity high speed trains. For the intracity public transit user I say again, let jitney chaos reign.
Face it, I’ve laid out a surface transportation plan that, for the most part, has users pay for the infrastructure they use. The users of freeways in North Dakota are not going to pay for their maintenance, others road users will pick up the slack. It is, at least, still road users paying for roads. Other details will have to be worked out, but a gas tax/tolls/assessments will provide the funding.
Show me how we can do this with passenger trains and I’ll reconsider. Hell, I like taking the train, I couldn’t afford it if I had to pay for it. I can afford $6-7 (present gas price plus 2-3 bucks in additional taxes) to pay for the damned roads.
@Southern Beale: Gas taxes. Wheel taxes. Car registration fees.
Gas taxes don’t pay anywhere near the full cost of road maintenance; I believe they cover 10-50% at best. And that should be obvious to everyone: the federal gas tax (and most state gas taxes as well) is a fixed cost per gallon. It doesn’t bring in more cash as gas prices go up. So while the gas tax has stayed fixed for the last 20 years, the cost of road maintenance and construction has been increasing thanks to inflation and the price of gas skyrocketing.
@Mnemosyne: That is considered the trade off today. It could easily change.
@kideni: Make that two Wisconsinites. I am sick about potentially losing this train and utterly dumbfounded by the venom regarding the project on Madison and Milwaukee newspaper boards. It’s astonishing.
Crappy as Metro was, I miss it. I now live in the Lehigh Valley and have to drive 30 min. to the nearest SEPTA station.
My wish is to have NJ Transit extend all the west to Phillipsburg, NJ (or even here to Bethlehem) and have SEPTA as far north as Quakertown or Coopersburg. God knows there are enough students and commuters that need to get into Philly and NYC on a daily basis.
The Silver Line had just been proposed when I lived there. The initial opening date at the time was 2011. Now it’s 2016. And I hear you on the traffic. When I first moved to DC I had to go from where I lived in Alexandria to the U street area. I made the mistake of driving there (hey…it’s only 8 miles!) at 3pm on a Tuesday. The traffic was biblical!
Data point — for, anti, not quite sure which:
In Texas we sporadically get a push for high-speed rail connecting Dallas to Austin and San Antonio, sometimes with a side order of Houston. When I first moved to Waco, it looked like this might actually happen (with Waco as the stop between Dallas and Austin), and I was eagerly anticipating it — driving to visit friends in Austin or DFW on very little sleep (because I worked an odd-hours newspaper editing job) was getting old.
The project may well have been doomed from the start, but it was strongly helped to its demise by a “grassroots” group of landowners complaining about what the line would do to their property… chiefly funded by Herb Kelleher, the founder/CEO of Southwest Airlines, which made a large chunk of its profits… well, you can guess the rest. (Southwest doesn’t serve Waco, BTW.) His point was that he didn’t want taxpayer-subsidized competition.
Not long ago there was another push. Haven’t heard much about it lately, and with Perry re-elected governor, probably won’t hear much again (especially as his Trans-Texas Corridor plan some years back got pretty soundly thwacked). But here’s where it gets interesting: Among the parties expressing interest? Airlines. Not Southwest, but its competitors running mainly commuter puddle-jumpers on the short-hop routes. Doing the math, it’s apparently starting to look more economical to move people to the hubs (DFW and Houston Bush) by train than by commuter plane.
Could the future of passenger rail, at least in some parts of the country, lie in a partnership between government and airlines? Waco Regional Airport wouldn’t be real happy with it, but rail service from Waco to DFW Airport, or even (hey, Herb!) Love Field? Connect it to DART rail and you get downtown Dallas and Fair Park into the bargain. I’d be there.
(This post is getting long enough, so I’ll just add two more words: Fort Hood. Killeen airports might not be too happy with the idea either…)
Jitneys: they worked for Atlantic City residents whose travel plans happen to begin or end at a casino, so they can work for Manhattan, Portland, Minneapolis, and Chicago, because privatization.
Roads are not even close to being paid for by taxes dedicated to driving. You can see this in nearly any municipality or state budget by looking at the lines that correspond to all such taxes and then compare that with the entire cost of road maintenance. In Chicago I once did the math and it was something like 42 cents on the dollar while the rest of the money came out of general revenue (sales tax, etc).
Transit systems by contrast typically pay for 55-70% of their cost through revenue generated within the system. And of course in a city like Chicago it makes a world of difference to, of all people, those who continue to insist on driving everywhere. A bus going down a major avenue during rush hour might house 45 people; that’s a lot of cars taken off the road which means shorter commutes and less traffic for drivers.
It is strange to see that even on a progressive blog that people aren’t only spectacularly misinsformed about the true costs or roads but that they are restating the same ludicrous nonsense you can find on any glibertard blog.
J sub D
@joe from Lowell:
No, they don’t.
Metro is not really poorly designed if you keep in mind that it was intended to shuttle Federal employees around the metro area. Metro is completely inadequate for the needs of the actual DC population, but works well for gov’t workers.
Even though federal employees account for nearly 50% of Metro’s ridership, the gov’t doesn’t kick in nearly that amount. Most of Metro’s funding comes from DC, MD, and NOVA. And it doesn’t a dedicated funding stream from those jurisdictions, which leads to chronic budget shortfalls year after year.
For what it is I think Metro works fairly well and when you add in the funding issues, I think it works exceptionally well.
@Fax Paladin: You lived in Waco? On purpose?
@Madeline: Me three.
Did anyone mention that big business loves them some freight trains. They are still privately owned and operated. The Republicans hate passenger trains. They would have let the railroad companies kill off all passenger trains but the government was forced to create Amtrak in the late 1960s as the companies were shedding passenger services. They hate the public subsidies that are needed by passenger trains.
Mike in NC
And here I thought it was Republican politicians!
@Gozer: I do too.
That’s why I asked.
When I lived in DC I thought it was excellent (except for getting to G-town). Anyone who bitches about it compares it to what exactly?
They never figured out how to fund the thing. I said that. Plus, outdoor escalators.
I don’t use tissue paper to blow my nose. I use kleenex.
joe from Lowell
@J sub D:
What that actually means is “Let everyone depend on roadway capacity.” Which is created through collective public funding, just like a rail line, and for which there will be a much greater demand if intracity public transit is done away with.
So, when my gas taxes pay for someone else’s train ride, you’ve got a problem with that. When they pay for someone else’s automobile drive, you don’t. I fail to understand why there is even the slightest relevance to the point that the mode of transportation being subsidized is the same as that used by the subsidizer. It’s wrong to put all transportation users under one collective umbrella, but “drivers” should all be viewed as a single entity? Why?
Yes, they do. As your map shows, all three regions have significant population centers roughly 200-300 miles away from each other, perfect for inter-city rail. Pittsburgh-Columbus-Cincinnati-Louisville, Pittsburgh-Columbus-Cleveland-Toledo-Detroit, Pittsburgh-Columbus-Indianapolis-Chicago-Milwaukee.
Nope. It was the two of us driving straight through with only meal breaks. We took the ugly (but faster) route that goes diagonally through extremely exciting states like Nebraska. We stopped off at a Motel 6 for a nap about halfway through, but we were so wound up that we only slept for four hours, checked out, and got back on the road.
We also had a recently liberated alley cat with us, but I didn’t even have a proper carrier for her, so she spent most of the trip sitting on the passenger’s lap. Good times, good times.
(This was one of those epic college trips and we were pretty sleep-deprived, so 18 hours might be a bit short, but that’s how we remember it. We did drive straight through, though, so it wasn’t more than 24 hours.)
J sub D
@joe from Lowell:
If you’re going to deny facts, this conversation is over.
Have a nice day.
Teabaggers have scooters. Scooters don’t go on trains, so there’s no need for trains. QED.
@kdaug: Hey, that’s where the job was…
We are not in disagreement. I’m an old DC guy, I actually watched Petey Greene
live on Channel 20 back in the day, rode the Metro for years always thought it was pretty cool until I moved to Tokyo and saw how this stuff is supposed to work. You can put a large denomination bill into the ticket machine and get change, in bills, not quarters. The escalators work, funding is not a problem.
So I guess that also answers your question BGinChi. Compared to Tokyo Subway, the DC Metro is kinda sucky.
joe from Lowell
Thank you for that map of the world, J sub. Could you tell me which facts I’m denying before you storm off in a huff?
@J sub D:
So, judging by your map, Australia shouldn’t have intercity trains at all since their population density is too low, much lower than the US as a whole.
And yet they do have them. Huh. It’s almost like you don’t actually know what you’re talking about, isn’t it?
@joe from Lowell:
I did notice that your point about the Great Lakes region having similar population density to the East Coast was answered by showing a map of the population density of the entire country as a whole. But if you don’t look at the entire country as a whole rather than discussing the actual regions where high-speed rail might work, then you’re not facing facts, man!
joe from Lowell
Boston-New York: 220 miles
Chicago-Milwaukee: 83 miles
Indianapolis-Chicago: 164 miles
Cleveland-Detroit: 169 miles.
Washington-Philadelphia: 136 miles.
Let me know when you want me to stop.
Are you getting confused by the presence of larger suburbs in between the major cities in the northeast corridor? Because that really has very little to do with high speed rail.
@joe from Lowell: I think he is trying to suggest that the population density issue matters in the Midwest because it is more rural between the cities. This, of course, does nothing to counter your argument that the spacing of medium sized cities through the mid-west would support inter-city rail. So even if he is correct on the density per square mile issue, it is irrelevant.
Hindsight’s always 20/20. There was no Tyson’s, no Reston, and no Herndon when the Orange Line was laid out.
It fascinates me the way that J sub D didn’t bother to reply to me to say “Yes, I concede it’s true that the Atlantic City jitney system is a failure as anything more than a glorified shuttle bus for underpaid casino workers to get to their jobs fleecing the blackjack players who didn’t go to Foxwoods, but you aren’t even considering insert city name here, insert state name here.” Certainly a scheme so awesomely workable (and profitable!) will have dozens, if not hundreds, of cities and towns across America that can be used to shut me up good.
@joe from Lowell:
The argument from folks on this is the “Krugman factor”. Namely that people like Krugman who live along the Acela line but not in any of the major cities account for a huge portion of its revenue making trips from reasonably densely populated places like Princeton to NYC, BOS, DC etc and that the midwest has no “Princeton” type place.
When people rail about the inefficiency of inter-city sometimes I wonder if they are having issues understanding scales of subsidy. Amtrak gets about 1B a year from the federal government. You know, less than a week in Afghanistan.
And some up front investment in Amtrak (which conservatives have railed against for decades) would decrease travel times and make it more appealing to customers. People don’t realize this but Mega-bus gets to nearly any midwestern location faster than Amtrak because Amtrak’s rail network is in such shitty condition. But you know what the US spends more on every year than 1B dollars? Subsidizing roads in the midwest!
How are Jimmy Carter and the Key Bridge alike?
@Mnemosyne: I like you, so I’m not gonna use any math kung-fu on your ass.
Plus, the story is always better than the reality, especially back in the college days.
I miss those old road trips.
joe from Lowell
@Mnemosyne: I can’t handle the truth!
Hard men, stand on wall, yadda yadda yadda.
Do you guys know about the inter-urbans that were hugely popular in the early part of the 20th century?
The midwest was FULL of rail lines that were really popular and affordable.
This has all been done before. The car, trucking, and oil killed it, and that’s not a conspiracy talking. Brutal fact.
joe from Lowell
Isn’t that an argument that those mid-western routes are even better suited for rail, because a much larger % of the people going to, say, Cincinnati are actually going to the city, instead of somewhere outside the city, and thus less likely to need a car when they get to the city?
Those were also the days when I had my zippy little late 1980s Toyota Celica, so we, um, may not have been strictly obeying the speed limit on those long stretches of flat road out in the boonies. Driving between LA and Vegas one time I looked down and suddenly realized I was going 95 but the car was cruising along so happily I didn’t know it until I looked at the speedometer.
Damn, I miss that car.
@Mnemosyne: The Celica Supra was a great car too. Fast and great handling.
For the record, I still love trains and want to ride them as much as I can.
You should not be able to be a politician in this country if you haven’t spent time along the Venice-Milan line.
@jharp: What you said twice. The MTR in Hong Kong was brilliant back in the 80s when I lived there. If it were not for the MTR many many Hong Kong Chinese people could not have been able to work. HELL FUCKING LO!
Left Coast Tom
If you take the planned high speed rail system it’s supposed to take just a little over 2 hours to get between Los Angeles and San Jose. Not 10.
@BGinCHI: Yes, I do. I am in favor of the return to rail.
@Omnes Omnibus: I think we’re living in an inter-train period, where the car is king. But it’s not sustainable.
We’ll go back to rail when the energy isn’t so readily available.
I hope the fuckers in the future enjoy it.
Another factor in Kasich’s pre-emptive killing of the 3C HSR plan might be political: in addition, of course, to all the aforementioned prejudices against rail projects that Republicans seem have coded into their DNA. My take is that he is going to deep-six the rail project so as to have a club to beat the Obama Admin with, then put the arm on his GOP pals in Congress to re-allocate the funds for some infrastructure project (which probably will be road-related) that he can put his name on, and look like a hero to the home-folks.
Hell, it could even BE another high-speed rail project: the main thing here (as it seems to be with everything Republicans do) is to spit in the eye of the Dems…
I don’t get it either, but I’ve always wondered why the rail advocates don’t try to sell it by harking back to the old days of the transcontinental railroad. I mean, all those all-American cowboys’n’Indians’n’bandits’n’such were fighting on, holding up, and living by trains. Trains helped build the western states. I think I’ve read one piece EVER–and it was a long-format one in Mother Jones, which isn’t exactly going to reach or convert most of the conservative masses–that drew a connection.
Let me be clear: I am not promoting banditry (or death panels). But it seems like a good way to sell it (“trains helped make America great, and they helped to build our country; now they can do it again. God bless you all, and God bless trains”) that is totally missing. What gives with that?
@Left Coast Tom:
Yes, but if I want to go to San Jose this February, I have to ride the train that I have now, not the train that will (fingers crossed) be there 5 or 10 years from now. :-)
Which was kind of my point: the reason people don’t take the train right now is because it’s slow and inconvenient pretty much by design — that’s what happens when you decide that freight trains should have priority over passenger trains. So judging future ridership based on our current really bad train system doesn’t seem like a very useful ting to do.
Left Coast Tom
@Mnemosyne: That makes sense. I guess I was just a bit surprised to see most of the discussion compare trains to cars, when I thought the high-speed projects were supposed to be able to compete with short-haul flights, particularly when stuff like ‘get to the airport early’, deal with security, etc. are factored in. Were the Ohio and Wisconsin projects not like that?
I think it’s the fear that Republicans have of having sit next to, y’know, THEM in the next seat.
Me, I love trains. Probably because I lived in Tokyo for 10 years and know exactly how efficient they can be. Over a million people go through Shinjuku each day. The subways handle 6-7 million each day. You’re just not going to get that people moving power with cars on Tokyo roads.
@ Jitney Depraved
“at least, still road users paying for roads.”
That is funny. Budget figures show 50% of US highway costs are from government general funds.
“Other details will have to be worked out,”
Of course they will. I thought ‘Other details will have to be worked out’ was the problem with rail.
“but a gas tax/tolls/assessments will provide the funding.”
See first response.
BTW, the automobile is also a 19th century technology.
What an idiot.
@J. Michael Neal: I think Iowa has changed its position on high-speed rail.
The future of the Mpls-Chicago rail line is, IMHO, through Iowa to the Quad Cities. They already have the green light for a new line from the Quads to Chicago, and now that WI is out it could be turned into a high-speed line pretty easily.
It always amazes me how people opposed to spending money on high-speed rail think that roads and bridges are somehow free. How much revenue does a highway generate directly? None, that’s how much – unless it’s a toll road.
@Mnemosyne: I would pay quite a lot to be able to take a train from the Twin Cities to Chicago. As it is, I drive whenever I need to make that trip because air travel is so expensive and stupid that it’s not that much longer, I can get Steak’n’Shake on the way, and don’t have to worry about TSA grabbing my balls.
Oh, and yeah, high-speed rail competes with flights. One reason why it’s hard to find anything flying between Osaka and Tokyo. Much easier to head down to the station and jump on the next Shinkansen.
New York’s already asked for Ohio’s money.
As much as I hate Kasich, I have to agree that it would be wasteful to build this railroad. It’s not high speed (they’ve recently revised the promised speed up to 50 mph from 39 mph), and there’s not much of a call for traveling between Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland — other than the sports fans who want to get drunk and not have worry about driving home.
The real problem in Ohio is getting people out of their cars and into public transportation. The Columbus bus system is pathetic; I don’t know specifics about the other cities, but none can be as good as the systems in NYC, Boston, and Washington DC. If Ohio cities had better public transportation, they’d heave themselves out of their cars and use it. Then, once they’re used to this kind of thing, they’d be more likely to use the trains.
Public transportation is definitely the way to go, but not the way they’re trying to do it in Ohio. It’s like they’re trying to get from Point A to Point C without dealing with Point B. It just won’t work.
@Martin: One thing that I’d really like to see in LA is at least the Red Line running until after the bars close on Fri/Sat. There are a fair number of bus lines that run almost all night but the subway closes too damn early. I thought the same thing about the DC Metro.
BTW, there is a difference between a rail project and road project. Both create good high paying construction jobs but modern rail also creates high paying tech jobs and centralizes energy pollution issues. So differential pay-off is not always accounted for by pure ridership numbers.
@Mnemosyne: Even with that, it’s not possible. My wife and I, as a parting gift to our Jetta, drove LA to SF in 5.5 hours averaging barely, barely over 100MPH. That required fairly long stretches running at 130 to make up for the gas/food/truck/’Fuck! A cop!’ stretches. Every minute you’re running at 70 is two minutes you need to run at 130 to average 100 due to speed up/slow down time. Every minute stopped is 6 minutes at 125. 6 minutes at 125 in a road car passing traffic looking for police is a LONG FUCKING TIME. Every time we’d have to jump on the brakes because cars were side-by-side, we’d have to run another minute+ well above 100MPH. Trucks required more like 3 minutes. I don’t see any way we could have done 4x that distance and not gotten shagged by CHP or crashed – at those speeds they tow your car if they catch you.
(I should note that even going 130 we were passed commandingly by cars several times.)
LA to Chicago is 2050 miles, with Denver as a perfect midpoint. LA-Chicago in 18 hours is basically running the 24 hours of Le Mans at slightly lower than Le Mans speeds. They do 3200 miles in 24 hours (130+ MPH average, 200+ MPH top speed). You’re suggesting 2100 miles in 18 hours. They’re doing it in 700 HP high-downforce cars with 3 drivers swapping out and a pit crew. They have to replace the brake pads during the race because they wear them out. Rare is the car that can make the distance without engine, transmission, or suspension repair.
Even in a Veyron I don’t think you could do LA-Chicago in 18 hours unless the roads were cleared for you.
Left Coast Tom
Trains from Paris Charles de Gaulle to Lyon carry Air France codes – for a ski trip I’ve bought an Air France ticket from San Francisco to Lyon that included the TGV. I _preferred_ that over a connecting flight, other European ski trips involving connecting through Paris have involved dealing with CDG’s seemingly permanent airport strike.
SFO loses half it’s capacity when fog or winter storms bring instrument conditions with a lot of the damage involving short haul flights – the parallel runways are too close together, and the whole airport is on landfill in the Bay. I voted for the high speed rail bond measure…was that 2008?…in part hoping it would clear out some of that mess.
Left Coast Tom
OK, I agree, Ohio was doing it wrong. BART hits 70 MPH in it’s fastest stretches, and its commuter rail. But it still sounds like Kasich has no plans whatever to do it right.
@Left Coast Tom: Kasich’s election is one of the most depressing things to come out of Tuesday. I really thought that nasty little man had crawled away somewhere, never to be seen again.
Dude, just let me have my epic college adventure, willya?
That is what killed the old Red Line in Los Angeles, and this is what will be used to kill high speed rail. There is no mony in it for GOP fluffers.
@Martin: Like in Cannonball Run!
I’d love to do it flat out in my GTI.
@Mnemosyne: I thought I had your back on that one, but alas, no.
Martin just loves math and couldn’t help working out the equations. :-)
It was definitely 18 hours from LA to Portland (OR), so LA to Chicago was probably more like 24 (but not much more).
The system in DC is poorly designed, partially, because they had to make on the fly changes because the outlying suburban (white) communities didn’t want the system coming into their communities (bringing all that inner city riff raff out to their fair neighborhoods). Until they saw the revenues generated; then they demanded, and got, forced modifications to include their lily asses in the system (because DC is controlled by Congress, not what passes for DC’s government).
As an ex-resident (and native), no, no not at all am I cynically bitter about the sh!tty state of DC’s home rule and disenfranchisement. Nope.
joe from Lowell was a legendary commenter at Reason. as you can imagine, he was subjected to much mocking, but he always fought the good fight. i didn’t realize he had retired.
Hope the block quote works out. Lost my edit thingy a few days ago.
Tysons and Reston did exist when the Orange line was built. The Chairman of the board of Supervisors at the time was Republican Heart Attack Jack Herrety and he did not want metro to go to Tysons. At that time I think people were worried that the Metro would let the riff-raff in. That is the same reason there is no stop in Georgetown.
@HyperIon: A tip of the cap then, for sure.
That’s amazing dedication. Those folks is stoopid.
I don’t think you are correct about that. Tyson’s Corner and Reston both pre-dated the Metro’s opening in the mid-late 70s. From teh Google:
Reston existed but was very small IIRC. and from the wiki article:
yes! Seattle and parts south had an inter-urban. It’s now a bike trail. :=(
@J sub D:
Yeah, all public transit should run like the MTA in New York.
Mnemosyne’s just being coy about delivering that 1970 Dodge Challenger while hopped up on speed. Though even then, 18 hours wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Supersoul the blind DJ and his police scanner.
Re: Tysons/Dulles Silver Line on DC Metro
Building it right now and Phase One through Tysons to Wiehle Ave in Reston on 267 has been under construction, has a government commitment to construction and is estimated to be running sometime in 2012. Phase 2 to Dulles Airport (and actually a stop beyond into LoudounCounty) is estimated to be completed in 2016 provided the likely VA and fed appropriations (the rep for a lot of Phase 2 territory in VA-10 is long-time GOP congressman Frank Wolf who has advocated for the project- if seniority means anything to Republicans he’ll get it. If the froshes go crazy anti-all pub transit hopefully he’ll be an adult and smack them down).
GOP policy is all about punishing us urbans for not voting for them and rewarding the rurals who do. Urbanites commute; rurals drive and haul with their pickups and gas guzzling SUVs. The only way you can make rail lines appealing to the rurals is by hanging a pair of trucknuts on every car.
Trains= less use of vehicles= less sales of gasoline= less profit for the oil companies= less campaign contributions.
have you ever driven between columbus, dayton, and cincinnati at rush hour?
@Richard Fox: And states like Minnesota get screwed, too. If Wisconsin has no fast train to Chicago, then Minnesota has no fast train to Chicago. Bastards.
Also, too, I heard yesterday that the new GOP asshats taking over the MN state house will probably oppose all rail as well.
Looks like it will be a self-fulfilling cycle of coastal liberal elites getting more rail, rock-ribbed conservative midwest getting none, and deepening the suspicion that a certain mode of transportation is a political signifier.
No-one says planes are Republican and Cruise ships are Democratic, maybe because cruise ships actually are Republican, and planes – except Southwest – are too, but it’s impolite to say so. It’d be very country-clubbish to know that your mode of transport is reflective of your party but not talk about it.
Everyone, of course, knows that the bus is for the poor. And if they vote at all, they vote for socialist, new black panther, tax my income for welfare queen Obamaites.
They eat food & wear clothing, don’t they? They order crap from Amazon & Newegg, right? Then they use the transportation infrastructure.
With Republicans, it’s never win-win. It’s a zero-sum game. If money goes to public transit, it will inevitably be taken away from roads. Doesn’t matter what anyone says.
The ironic thing about this? Republicans will support the maintenance of the road infrastructure but not the bridges/overpasses. I guess they manage okay with their secret fleet of hover cars….
one word why we don’t want trains
and if you want to connect trains with health care just consider what your hip replacement will be like when it is two hours late at the station because of government and unions running the operation
and a second word just to help you out
you been on a bus in a while?
The reason many republicans do not agree with building more trains more many reasons. 1) We all have a car, which is typically cheaper to drive than the train. 2) America has a wonderful interstate system. 3) Amtrak continuously loses money. If the few trains we have do not make money, how will more trains help. 4) We are proud of America and do not feel the need to have more trains in order to be more like Europe. 5) Driving is twice as fast as train travel. 6) Why take a train to another city, to then be stuck renting a car or taking a local bus once in the city? Also, I traveled to Britain and France last year and found it cheaper, easier, and faster to rent a car instead of taking public transportation.
The reasons Republicans do not agree with building more trains is for many reasons. 1) We all have a car, which is typically cheaper to drive than the train. 2) America has a wonderful interstate system. 3) Amtrak continuously loses money. If the few trains we have do not make money, how will more trains help? 4) We are proud of America and do not feel the need to have more trains in order to be more like Europe. 5) Driving is twice as fast as train travel. 6) Why take a train to another city, to then be stuck renting a car or taking a local bus once in the city? Also, I traveled to Britain and France last year and found it cheaper, easier, and faster to rent a car instead of taking public transportation.
@Gozer: Unless you were around for the time an overturned semi blocked the entire Woodrow Wilson Bridge during afternoon rush on a summer Thursday, you can’t talk Biblical traffic. IIRC, there were a whole bunch of babies born about 9 months later, and one of them was a girl named Shirley because she had been conceived near the Shirlington exit of I-395.
Yeah, it’s because of something else. Namely, money, or a lack thereof. Perhaps you’ve heard — our country is spending massive amounts of money that we effectively don’t have for all kinds of things — wars, bailing out banks, auto companies. It’s really an issue of economic responsibility. Also, size does matter. Due to the geographical breadth of the United States (if you note, Europe is a much SMALLER geographical region), the current national federally funded train system, AMTRAK, has been a financial disaster, losing loads of money every year. Republicans and other conservatives believe throwing more money down a black hole with no real return, except satisfying the occasional fancy of someone to “take the train”, while wasting daily on empty cars is not a smart investment in these times of economic crisis. Personally, I like trains a lot. AMTRAK California is a great service that a good number of commuters use. But even this US-train success story loses money. Within cites such as NYC and Chicago, public transportation is an investment that much of the public depend upon in daily life. That works out fine since the residents are support such services locally through taxation.
If you want to see real success with train systems, check out the Shinkansen. http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2018.html I once rode on Nagano line and was duly impressed.