Gallery: Some of Florida’s Rejected $2 Billion in High Speed Rail Funds...

It was announced today that the money set aside for the Florida’s rejected high speed rail line has been split up between a number of different projects around the country. The largest chunk the cash, $795 million, is going toward the rather congested and overcrowded Washington DC – New York – Boston corridor, which will make track improvements allowing trains to run at speeds up to 160 miles per hour. Nearly half of the money going to the Northeast corridor was awarded to New York State. Another huge chunk — about $300 million — is headed out west to the real high speed rail that will run between San Francisco and Los Angeles at up to 220 miles per hour.

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  1. lazyreader May 11, 2011 at 8:27 am

    While more than 400 billion dollars has been spent on public transit systems since the 1960s, ridership is at a historic low. Public transit proponents call for more money than ever to be spent on such projects. Only 1.8 percent of all personal trips are made using public transit. This is less than those made on foot (5.4 percent) and only slightly above trips made by school bus (1.7 percent). Various rail projects funded by the government were more expensive than the cost of leasing each new commuter a new economy automobile in perpetuity. In fact, some light-rail projects were so expensive it would be cheaper to lease each new commuter a luxury car.

    We live in a society where few people are periodic on a daily basis. They don’t actually travel from point A to point B anymore. They go to from point A-1 to B-6 perhaps on Monday and by Wednesday its A-3 to C-5. We have millions of people from thousands of origins traveling to thousands of destinations, and you cant just build rail tracks to all those places. Carpooling in the United States barely works in these situations, why would transit work; as it is government mandated carpooling. On average 90 percent of trips in America are no more than 40 miles per day. I don’t see HSR taking me to the grocery store or work on a daily basis…….or any real basis.

  2. lazyreader May 11, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Florida’s rejection is someone else’s gain. They could have given the entire $2.4 billion to California, sending a signal that the administration remains serious about building a true high-speed rail network. Instead Transpo’ secretary LaHood gave only $300 million to California high-speed rail, and instead gave the lion’s share–$800 million–to Amtrak and several eastern states for the Northeast Corridor–a corridor that wasn’t even on the original high-speed rail list until LaHood added it in March. Most of the rest of the money went for minor improvements in track to allow trains to run slightly faster than they run today, or for stations, locomotives, passenger cars, and similar facilities that will pretty much operate at conventional speeds.

    When people ask why the railroad business failed so many years ago, technically they didn’t….Mostly they simply prioritized freight as opposed to people. Some others did fail, they failed because they thought they were in the railroad business; they were not, they were in the transportation business (Just like Microsoft is in the software business. If they don’t offer an evolving and lucrative service every few years, we’ll stop buying it and hardware makers will simply look elsewhere) And when planes and cars outperformed trains in speed and convenience respectivley, they just sunk. Whatever rail scheme they have. The states are going to pay for it, then have to subsidize as much as half the operating costs to begin with, for years, and when the damn thing is worn out, the few people who still use it are gonna form a lobby to keep it going and rebuild it entirely.

    On average, a typical resident of France rides the high-speed rail only about 400 miles per year. So what? They drive twenty times as much as they ride high speed rail. They fly 3 times as much as they ride the rail just to get around France (that doesn’t include international travel). Acela is one of the few profitable Amtrak routes. And despite the billions they’ve already spent, they only managed to capture less than six percent of the travel market in the Northeast. That’s the best they could do. Still they wanna build high-speed rail everywhere. And in California and Florida or other places it may only capture less than one percent of the travel market. If Amtrak is gonna have trains zipping along the rails at 150 mph or more, they are gonna have to build brand new tracks…..from scratch at an enormous cost. And the energy their supposed to save is marginal to the enormous amount of energy spent building new infrastructure. Even before it pays off, they forget the rails are gonna need constant maintenance and further energy spent rebuilding every 10 years or so to keep it moving so fast. Buses are far far more flexible. Bus routes can be re-routed to accommodate where people live and work. Trains can’t, there built as extremely rigid models; commuting patterns change and the rail declines. Buses can be rerouted to go anywhere. Declines in rail use only adapt by raising fares and their not going to skip a station even if it has no passengers. Your just better off as a community or town not building trains by not having to spend millions or billions of dollars and going heavily into debt when you only have to spend millions of dollar or couple of hundred-thousand dollars on buses.

    So maybe rail won’t work in your little town. But what about New York or Chicago? Well, the New York City subway is the most cost efficient rail system in the country. Something to be proud of. Still…’s very costly. Their agencies are always on the verge of some fiscal turmoil or some scandals involving cost overruns. Their behind on their maintenance. They have ignored maintenance issues in favor of expanding and building additional lines under the belief they’ll draw in more riders and fares to pay for it in the future. A NYC agency employee turned whistle-blower (and fired for having been found leaking information) has said ”We will never have enough money to keep the system maintained”, ”Doesn’t matter how much you give us it’ll never be enough”. Because every time you give them more money, they just go out and build more instead of maintain what they already have.

  3. robsvacation May 10, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I’m glad to see the money go to someplace that can readily use it but don’t call it high speed rail. Most of the money is going to fund commuter rail projects north of NYC which the “high speed rail” will limp through pathetically. For true high speed rail south of NYC is the place to focus: the right of way is straighter and primarily controlled by Amtrak. North of NYC is a political decision.