Patterico's Pontifications

5/11/2021

Delusional Senator Dreams of High-Speed Rail Where It Is Least Suitable

Filed under: General — JVW @ 5:03 pm



[guest post by JVW]

My contempt for people who sell fanciful public work pipe dreams knows no regional boundaries. Today, we saw the witless United States Senator from Connecticut, Christopher Murphy, indulge in the ever-popular progressive “[Europe/Asia/Canada] has [insert massive public spending initiative here], so why can’t we?” line of reasoning. This time, he channelled Jerry Brown’s obsession with the lickety-split choo-choo train:

Why not a bullet train, Senator? Well, let’s go over the logistics. Sen. Murphy doesn’t tell us what he thinks would be a proper amount of time for passage from Beantown to the Beltway, so let’s go ahead and grant that he probably doesn’t expect it to be the Beijing-Shanghai standard of a mean velocity of nearly 200 mph along the route. Let’s instead assume that he thinks the current travel time of roughly seven hours (ranging from 6:46 on the morning Acela up to 9:30 on the overnight Regional) from South Station to Union Station ought to be whittled down to a more reasonable four hours, meaning that the train should maintain an average speed of 110 miles per hour. One should note that Sen. Murphy’s estimation of 440 miles as the distance between the two cities is based upon the shortest possible drive which takes one through Central Massachusetts then down through Central Connecticut, but the reality of the current Amtrak route, which goes down through Providence then along the coast of the Long Island Sound, is that it is closer to 460 miles. So really a train along that route would need to average 115 mph.

Of course the train has to stop to pick-up and drop-off passengers along the way, and thus has to decelerate into train stations before arriving to a full stop and then start again from that full stop and accelerate back up to top speed on the way out. Furthermore, some of the time will obviously have to be spent sitting stationary at the — uh, well — station as passengers de-board and board the train. Currently the Acela takes the following route: Boston to New Haven to New York to Philadelphia to Wilmington to Washington. That is four intermediary stops, so estimating that deceleration into each station, exchanging passengers, then accelerating back out of each station would cost five minutes each (probably at a minimum) for a grand total of 20 minutes, we’re now talking about covering that distance in-between stations at a slightly faster clip to make up for that lost time, bringing us up to 125 mph.

Let’s put that into perspective. The high-speed train from Boston to DC would now need to travel at 125 miles per hour (over 200 kilometers per hour), through cities populated with Sen. Murphy’s constituents such as New London, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, East River, Guilford, Milford, Stratford, Bridgeport, Fairfield, Norwalk, Darien, Cos Cob, Riverside, Stamford, and Greenwich. How many Connecticut moms do you think would be psyched by the prospect of a high-speed train hurtling through their cities past their homes, schools, playgrounds, workplaces, and churches? It’s true that high-speed train derailments are rare, but they aren’t entirely unheard of, and all it takes is for one to happen in an urban or suburban location and suddenly those trains will thereafter be required to crawl through those locations like elderly turtles wearing brand-new cowboy boots. And I only covered communities in Connecticut. I highly doubt that suburbanites and city dwellers are going to want trains passing through at 125 mph in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, or the District of Columbia either.

So could we build the high-speed rail line in a different route, perhaps the one through Central Massachusetts and Central Connecticut which would be save some time and affect fewer communities? Why sure we can. After all, even if we tried to use the coastal route, we would still have to lay down separate high-speed rail track, and we would have the huge conundrum (frankly an impossibility) of laying it in such a way that regular freight and commuter rail lines did not cross over it thus causing delays from time to time. Maybe we build the line from Boston to Hartford to New York to Philadelphia to Washington DC (ok, ok, President Biden: we’ll add in a fucking Wilmington stop just for you) and try our hardest to minimize passage through other urban/suburban areas. But of course this is the Northeast we’re talking about, so it’s not as if there are miles and miles of wide-open spaces we can work with. This alternate route would still probably see the train passing through small towns throughout Southern Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut, then after it left Hartford there’s no real way I can see to avoid running though twee Western Connecticut communities. And once you get anywhere near New York City you can absolutely forget finding open uninhabited spaces, with things not improving much on the route from New York to Philadelphia/Wilmington. From there you would have to route the train through Northeast Maryland to avoid having to slow down through Baltimore, and the high-speed rail line would have to go through the Chesapeake Bay on its way to Washington. Civil engineers, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

Let’s also not overlook the fact that by deliberately avoiding passing through large metropolitan centers we are limiting our potential ridership. It seems unlikely to me that a rider in Providence heading to New York would take a 50 minute commuter rail ride up to Boston to catch the high-speed train, nor would they bother to ride to Hartford or New Haven and change trains just to go high-speed on those last 115 miles to Gotham. So you would likely be left with a ridership that is overwhelming within 20 miles of Boston, Hartford/New Haven (depending upon what the final route is), New York, and Washington. Does America really need to subsidize another money-losing venture just to make Chris Murphy and Joe Biden feel good around their Chinese counterparts?

It fits nicely within the noble tradition of the American can-do spirit to imagine running high-speed rail throughout our great country, but the sad reality is that the intersection of rail lines which might see profitable passenger traffic and rail lines which don’t traverse through densely-populated parts of the country is very small indeed. The lessons we have so bitterly learned throughout the whole California High Speed Rail Authority fiasco ought to be contemplated by the bullet train aficionados in other parts of the country, since it seems clear that what has vexed California HSR would come into play just as readily with a Northeastern version of that ugly boondoggle. (I mean, if we can’t even purchase land rights for rail track between Bakersfield and Merced, how are we going to do so between New Haven and New York?) But we’re in the era of stupid people and stupid capital, so it won’t at all surprise me if part of the Joe Biden legacy is a money pit similar to what Senator Murphy is teasing.

– JVW

51 Responses to “Delusional Senator Dreams of High-Speed Rail Where It Is Least Suitable”

  1. Yeah, I’m writing about government trains again. What do Joe Biden and I have in common (besides a predilection for Irish blarney)? Our acute interest in choo-choos.

    JVW (30a532)

  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDOI0cq6GZM

    Don’t be such a hater.

    Hoi Polloi (b28058)

  3. Don’t be such a hater.

    I would have slightly more respect for the high-speed rail pimps if they came up with a clever song-and-dance routine.

    JVW (30a532)

  4. I fear for JVW’s mental health if Gavin throws the 75 billion surplus at CA’s high-speed rail.

    norcal (01e272)

  5. After all, even if we tried to use the coastal route, we would still have to lay down separate high-speed rail track, and we would have the huge conundrum (frankly an impossibility) of laying it in such a way that regular freight and commuter rail lines did not cross over it thus causing delays from time to time.

    Tunnels are a thing.

    Dave (1542be)

  6. California is so fvcked up. Hollywood hardly works there now thanks to CGI– and Elon Musk left for Texas, where the state suckers are easier to swindle. 😉

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  7. Passenger-sized VTOL aircraft. Tony Stark, where are you?

    nk (1d9030)

  8. Beijing to Shanghai
    – distance: 800 miles
    – train time: 4.3 hours

    Boston to DC
    – distance: 440 miles
    – train time: 7 hours

    — Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) May 11, 2021

    That’s why Americans fly, Chris.

    Idiot.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  9. Trains aren’t a terrible idea, but getting them done in an effective way makes enemies and probably loses votes in the short term because the only real way to acquire the land would be eminent domain and politicians don’t have the stomach for it.

    Nic (896fdf)

  10. @9 Old California could have done it, but these days, with NIMBYs, unions, environmental impact reports, wasteful spending, bureaucratic bloat, and excessive regulation (I repeat myself), it’s a pipe dream.

    norcal (01e272)

  11. Idiocracy.

    Charlie Davis (15121e)

  12. Tunnels are a thing.

    Just lining Elon Musk’s pockets aren’t you? And how much of the “romance” of train travel is undermined if the entire Boston-DC journey takes place underground? Would you pay $250 round-trip for that as opposed to flying?

    JVW (30a532)

  13. @12 The suckiest part of riding BART was when it went under the Bay.

    norcal (01e272)

  14. The suckiest part of riding BART was when it went under the Bay.

    The worst part of Amtrak from Boston to New York is that the train starts going through tunnels shortly after leaving New Rochelle and takes you to the bowels of Penn Station, so you don’t even get that view of New York City on the way in.

    JVW (30a532)

  15. And how much of the “romance” of train travel is undermined if the entire Boston-DC journey takes place underground? Would you pay $250 round-trip for that as opposed to flying?

    *facepalm*

    I didn’t mean putting the *whole route* underground.

    You said solving the problem of train tracks in different directions crossing was “frankly an impossibility”.

    Dave (1542be)

  16. [Europe/Asia/Canada] has voter ID, so why can’t we?

    [Europe/Asia/Canada] has strict immigration policies, so why can’t we?

    JF (e1156d)

  17. Good post, JVW. I like these – think they’re interesting.

    Leviticus (3695c8)

  18. R.I.P. Norman Lloyd, actor/producer/director, at age 106

    Icy (6abb50)

  19. @9 Old California could have done it, but these days, with NIMBYs, unions, environmental impact reports, wasteful spending, bureaucratic bloat, and excessive regulation (I repeat myself), it’s a pipe dream.

    The appetite for Building Big Things in this country ended right around the time that Crying Indian commercial came out. Politicians talk a good game about these types of projects, but no one has the stomach to do the things that would require. Too many votes to be lost in the execution. That commercial that Rachel Maddow did back during the ARRA days where she was standing in front of Hoover Dam, talking about how we still had the capability to build things like that, was patently absurd to anyone with a high school education (at least, what one was worth before the New Left began making its long march through the institutions, anyway).

    If Hoover was being proposed today, the EIS would be larger than the dam itself and a Democratic President would have turned the whole canyon into a national monument to keep it from being developed.

    And Murphy comparing us to China in this regard is patently absurd due to those very factors. The Chinese government doesn’t give a squirt for all the shibboleths that always get invoked over here to prevent these kinds of things from being built. If they have to destroy a wetland or relocate an entire village in the interest of “the greater good,” they’re going to do it and the people who don’t like it can suck it up and learn to live with it.

    Factory Working Orphan (f916e7)

  20. @19 Thunderous applause!

    norcal (01e272)

  21. Good post, JVW. I like these – think they’re interesting.

    Thanks Leviticus. I hope things are well with you and your family.

    JVW (30a532)

  22. DCSCA — the trouble with flying, long term, is that as population growth drives demand, the throughput of air corridors hits a limit where it can’t be increased safely. It’s not just that the number of landing slots are limited, it’s that the *overall number of planes which can be in the corridor* is limited.

    HSR is intended to take some of the pressure off of the air traffic system.

    aphrael (4c4719)

  23. I prefer to attack it from another angle, aphrael, and that is to disincentivize population growth.

    Restrict immigration, cut off child tax credits after a certain number of children, and give out building permits only for replacement purposes.

    An added bonus is that water supplies won’t be depleted.

    norcal (01e272)

  24. I fear for JVW’s mental health if Gavin throws the 75 billion surplus at CA’s high-speed rail.

    My theory is that he asked Santa for a choo-choo one Christmas, long ago, and the fat socialist from the North Pole didn’t come through, leaving JVW emotionally scarred for life.

    Dave (1542be)

  25. Our esteemed guest host wrote:

    Of course the train has to stop to pick-up and drop-off passengers along the way, and thus has to decelerate into train stations before arriving to a full stop and then start again from that full stop and accelerate back up to top speed on the way out. Furthermore, some of the time will obviously have to be spent sitting stationary at the — uh, well — station as passengers de-board and board the train. Currently the Acela takes the following route: Boston to New Haven to New York to Philadelphia to Wilmington to Washington. That is four intermediary stops, so estimating that deceleration into each station, exchanging passengers, then accelerating back out of each station would cost five minutes each (probably at a minimum) for a grand total of 20 minutes, we’re now talking about covering that distance in-between stations at a slightly faster clip to make up for that lost time, bringing us up to 125 mph.

    At least in Europe, passengers carry their luggage on to the trains, and that luggage needs to be stowed. The (few) trains I’ve traveled there had luggage storage bins at the two ends of the passenger cars, and there was always a wait while debarking passengers retrieved their bags, and embarking passengers stowed theirs. The stations are crowded, and it’s typical Italian chaos, as bad as driving in Italy.

    The trains are in the station for more than just a few minutes. It’s not like they are stopping on the main line, but are switched into various loading bays. As they depart, more track switching occurs. The Europeans have it down to an art, but it’s still, well, European, and it makes the Philadelphia airport look great by comparison.

    The Dana in Kentucky (e9cac9)

  26. JVW wrote:

    Currently the Acela takes the following route: Boston to New Haven to New York to Philadelphia to Wilmington to Washington.

    I have to ask: why would the Acela stop in Wilmington, population 70,644, but not Baltimore, population 609,032? That wouldn’t have anything to do with a certain, rather famous Delawarean wanting that stop, would it?

    But if high-speed rail is to be the mass transit that the left want, wouldn’t they need to have more stops along the way? It’s 97 miles between Philadelphia and New York City, with a whole bunch of people living in between, people who would have to drive their cars, for over an hour, just to get to the train station. To be a true mass transit system, wouldn’t the trains have to serve more of the masses?

    The Dana in Kentucky (e9cac9)

  27. Dave wrote:

    And how much of the “romance” of train travel is undermined if the entire Boston-DC journey takes place underground? Would you pay $250 round-trip for that as opposed to flying?

    *facepalm*

    I didn’t mean putting the *whole route* underground.

    You said solving the problem of train tracks in different directions crossing was “frankly an impossibility”.

    Which brings to mind the Washington Metro: hugely expensive to build, with subway stations of unpainted grey concrete that look like caves. But large parts of the system are above ground, with all sorts of security systems in place, high fences topped with concertina wire, to keep potential saboteurs or the homeless from breaking in, maybe touching the electrified rails, or sabotaging a section of the track.

    Terrorists just love the idea of hijacking an airliner, and bringing maybe 200 people to their deaths, but imagine just one radical Muslim terrorist disgruntled white supremacist and Donald Trump voter who gets his hands on a rocket propelled grenade launcher, hitting a high-speed train filled with civilian passengers and perhaps a senator from Delaware?

    The Dana in Kentucky (e9cac9)

  28. Any county to country comparison that doesn’t address our heavy rail performance is missing an important detail. I don’t have time to provide the links, but our ability to move goods by rail really is world class, even if we don’t use it for personal transport as well.

    Time123 (f5cf77)

  29. From the First World California Problems Archive:

    This comic strip is from 2010. (And, yes, the Drabbles lives someplace where you have to drive through Barstow to get to Las Vegas.)

    nk (1d9030)

  30. TDIK, I thought they’d get a sick kick out of the climax of The Cassandra Crossing (1976), but nowadays those former Warsaw Pacters beat up on southern Euro PIGS let alone WOGs and others from farther out. That movie is probably more relevant for its ham fisted way of addressing a potential pandemic.

    urbanleftbehind (a41a4f)

  31. HSR is a solution in search of a problem.

    Rip Murdock (663335)

  32. Passenger-sized VTOL aircraft.

    Almost:

    Boston-based REGENT says it’s planning to build the first all-electric “seaglider,” a ground-effect vehicle with top speeds of 180 mph. The company hopes it will change the future of transportation over water.

    Dave (1542be)

  33. There was this study that I cannot find anymore, so if any of you sleuths can find it I’d greatly appreciate it.

    I recall that in order for high-speed rails to be economically viable, it needs to be the long distance kind of route, such as Chicago to LA, or NYC to Houston with very minimal stops. Seriously, like 1 to 2 intervening stops. If you were to optimize the boarding/deboarding aspect of train travel, such that the hassles usually associated with flying are mitigated, the experience could be the same, if not better than airtravel.

    The idea is that on a train, you can replicate just about everything you need in an office and whilst in transit you can comfortably go about your work day, that isn’t always available on a plane flight.

    Such that, this study optimistically shows that if a not-insignificant business travelers chose to travel by train, that would introduce competition for airlines to lower their prices even more.

    That same study also showed that highspeed rail in highly populated areas, such as the northeast and places like California, has such an elongated ROI that it would have to be subsidized long term by the government. At that point, their argument is that it may even be cheaper for the government to just own the rail/trains at that point.

    whembly (63cfde)

  34. @28

    Any county to country comparison that doesn’t address our heavy rail performance is missing an important detail. I don’t have time to provide the links, but our ability to move goods by rail really is world class, even if we don’t use it for personal transport as well.

    Time123 (f5cf77) — 5/12/2021 @ 4:57 am

    That’s what I’ve seen too.

    However, if we were to expand into trains for personal transport, we’d almost have to create new dedicated rails so that we don’t disrupt the current state.

    whembly (63cfde)

  35. Tunnels are a thing.
    Dave (1542be) — 5/11/2021 @ 5:17 pm

    They are a thing indeed. Maybe not the best idea in an earthquake-prone area that is also witnessing the ground sink from aquifer depletion. But hey…Japan.

    Hoi Polloi (15cfac)

  36. stupid capital

    Money spent by government may be stupid, but it’s no longer “capital.”

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  37. @34, yes AND heavy rail doesn’t run to population centers for easy passenger loading / unloading.

    Time123 (f5cf77)

  38. California has a budget surplus of $75 billion, mainly from the wild rise of Silicon Valley stocks during the pandemic. What will they spend it on?

    Fixing the pension system?
    Building out rail transit in Los Angeles?
    Finishing the Moonbeam Express?

    Well, no. They are required to do a few things by law (and it’s a good thing they wrote these down):

    Tax refunds (which will be in the form of $600 checks to everyone except the people who paid most of the tax)
    Pay down bonds
    Money to schools

    But that leaves almost $40 billion more. Democrats are calling for Newsom to provide Medicaid for all undocumented immigrants, increase support for homeless residents, expand child care and generally fund things that will require ongoing outlays in future years, because that’s what you do with windfalls, right?

    https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/552685-california-scores-staggering-75-billion-budget-surplus

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  39. aphrael — the trouble with flying, long term, is that as population growth drives demand, the throughput of air corridors hits a limit where it can’t be increased safely. It’s not just that the number of landing slots are limited, it’s that the *overall number of planes which can be in the corridor* is limited.

    The trouble with “safety” in the “corridor” is related to information and decision-making speed at least as much as it is to vehicular density. That’s true for air, rail, asphalt highway, narrow-boat canals, and anti-grav monorail tube capsules.

    Suppose the railroad system had NO information about how many, or what other, or which direction, locomotives would be moving on any give track. It would be necessary for the railroad company to build a separate track for each locomotive, right. BUT, if the stations were linked, (by an imaginary technology we might call “telegraph”) so that all locomotives reported location, speed, direction, length, etc — and responded to instructions about schedules, lay-bys, alternative routes — THEN each track could handle a lot more traffic. In fact, the number of miles of rail-TRACK could (would) fall even while the number of engines, rail cars, tonnage and other numbers related to usage ALL could (would) rise. And in fact in the last century telecommunications systems and automated routing and scheduling and management have caused exactly that “paradox” in the rail industry. Another consequence however is that schedules are much more “fluid”. Freight doesn’t particularly mind a few hours, give or take, on a lay by. Departure, or even arrival, at some time different than initially advertised is not a huge deal breaker for oil, corn, coal, or boxes of Chinese plastic shoes. PASSENGERS, on the other hand, want to depart AND arrive as planned. Switching to a different “corridor” and schedule bothers people, for some reason…

    The air traffic control system in the US is frankly frozen in a passenger-oriented, strictly scheduled, rigorously channeled, paradigm. It BOTHERS people when a plane is diverted around a weather system or alters schedules. The entire confusing rate system tries to trade dollars for reliability (including but not limited to “safety”) with only limited success. Because the federal government treats air traffic the way it does, more fluid scheduling/pricing models (analogous to Uber and Lyft) that might be safer, cheaper, and more capacious can’t even be tried. (Except in odd circumstances like inside of Texas, see history of SouthWest Airlines.) There is a LOT of room in the atmosphere for more corridors — given only telegraphic-like information systems to exploit it.

    pouncer (6c33cf)

  40. Trains make no sense for long-distance transport. They work in Europe because most travel is too short for planes, and because they built passenger train networks before there were highways. Once you have highways and airplanes, the train niche is limited (mostly to urban commuter lines). Amtrak was mainly created to subsidize commercial train networks, maintaining tracks that would otherwise be expensive for rail carriers to keep up.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  41. Freight carried by rail reached 2,704 billion tonnes/kilometer in 2014, was down to 2,364 in 2019, when the economy was still hot.

    Certain goods travel well by rail: coal, aggregate, chemicals and grain. These are the types of products delivered in bulk, from producers with dedicated rail loading to buyers able to receive the product at their own rail terminals. If the shipper or receiver does not have his own rail yard, it becomes impractical, because either the shipper or receiver, or both, have to load or unload at the railhead and transport by truck.

    With the coal industry dying, I can see it in eastern Kentucky: rail lines are simply not hauling the goods anymore. CSX has been storing unused cars on lines, both coal cars and, more recently, cars designed to haul cargo containers, not far from my house. Due to the laws, they have to move them once a year, to keep the line legally active, and not have to physically remove the lines. CSX hauled out over a hundred container carrier cars just last week.

    Just before we moved away from Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, in 2017, the railroad had dozens, perhaps over a hundred, new-looking tanker cars placarded for crude oil, parked on the line, parked for months.

    Just before I moved from Virginia to Delaware, our company switched from receiving cement by rail to by truck; the trucking company promised us great service, at a reduced price, and the truck drivers pumped the cement up into the silos for us; we didn’t have to have a man at the railhead, using a 600 HP motor to power the blower that pushed the cement ¼ mile up into our silos.

    I have had the distinct pleasure of unloading 100 tons of cement from a railcar, though not at a plant where I had to pump it that far. I had to move the cars myself, pushing them with a front end loader, to the unloading position. Then I had to hook up the blower, pressurize the car, and work the valves at the bottoms of the hoppers to discharge the cement into the blower lines. There were times it seemed that I had to repair at least one valve, out of four, on every railcar. It was time consuming, dirty, and labor intensive.

    I’ve also had the pleasure of having to rerail two different cars that derailed! Both times were in the winter, where ice collected by the tracks, and the flanges of the wheels rode up on top of the ice and the cars rolled up onto the ground. I had to use a Caterpillar 988 loader, and heavy pieces of wood, to gradually scoot the wheels back onto the tracks. Of course, we were supposed to report this to the railroad, because every wheel that derails is requited to be reground at the rail yard, but we didn’t do that. (This was last century; statute of limitations has expired!)

    But at least I wasn’t the guy who derailed the cars in the first place! :)

    The Dana in Kentucky (e9cac9)

  42. My theory is that he asked Santa for a choo-choo one Christmas. . .

    I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I actually really do enjoy riding the train. I’ve just always been willing to acknowledge that this means leisurely and not speedy transportation. I rode business class on the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Oakland (which was an eleven-hour and twenty-minute ride, folks). I had a comfortable window seat out of which I could view the southern coast and then the Central Valley and an onboard wi-fi connection which was just barely adequate enough so that I could do some work. One day I plan to take the same route all the way up to Seattle.

    But I recognize that long-distance train travel is a nice piece of early 20th Century nostalgia, not a reasonable strategy for 21st Century transportation needs.

    JVW (30a532)

  43. One of the derailed cars wasn’t too bad; it was empty, and weighed only 50 tons. The other was loaded, so it weighed 150 tons.

    The Dana in Kentucky (e9cac9)

  44. @22. “Take the train to the plane.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkL1LIUsmqc

    This is a NYC “Train To The Plane” MTA ad from 1978 and 1980

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  45. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I actually really do enjoy riding the train. I’ve just always been willing to acknowledge that this means leisurely and not speedy transportation. … But I recognize that long-distance train travel is a nice piece of early 20th Century nostalgia, not a reasonable strategy for 21st Century transportation needs.

    That’s a whole different thing. Go for it. No critique from me, or any fair minded person.

    Riding horseback, too. Or taking a paddle-wheel steamboat up or down the Missouri or Mississippi. Or a narrowboat along the old canals of England. Hot air balloon rides. If there is a dirigible operator willing to offer point-to-point trips, do it. Antique transportation as a recreation.

    Do it all on your own dime, of course. As historically significant as all such passenger transport channels are, I see no particular “conservative” reason to spend federal funds on keeping them open.

    Here, near Dallas, Texas, a section of the suburb of Irving is called “Los Colinas” and was designed with water features (storm water detention and run-off control) designed to mimic the canals of Venice, Italy. Including “water-taxi” rides. (Also, it has pylons for “Disneyland” style mono-rail trains.) Bold, innovative, investment in infrastructure, right? But as much fun as they are in concept, for some reason very very few actual passengers avail themselves of these methods of transport. More people hire pedal-paddle boats in the lagoon at Dallas Fair Park than ever float a boat in the canals of Los Colinas.

    pouncer (6c33cf)

  46. When we are all forced into electric cars, we’ll need high-speed rail. You may think this is an unintended consequence, but I don’t.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  47. Why would electric cars necessitate high-speed rail?

    norcal (01e272)

  48. If I lived in London or Tokyo, and possibly New York City (not that I would live in NYC), I wouldn’t own a car. Subways and other rail would do for most everyhing and when it wouldn’t, there’s Uber and Hertz. Having spent some time in subway towns, I appreciate the freedom of quick, cheap movement on predictable routes. I think that it would work in L.A., which is much like Tokyo and London in size and traffic impossibility. Of course the city fathers authorities would have to spend a bit more time on getting transit done than they spend on bike lanes and walk streets near their houses.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  49. Why would electric cars necessitate high-speed rail?

    Well, it could be low-speed rail, but electric cars that charge fast or have a long range are VERY far away. You cannot drive 500 miles in an electric car; instead you have to show your IDs to the TSA and board some common carrier.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  50. You could add San Francisco to that list, Kevin. Very convenient public transportation. Besides, parking is a NIGHTMARE.

    norcal (01e272)

  51. Like the oil companies 1% are going to let that happen. The abolition of the internal combustion engine might have brought the world back into the 19th century when the world population was under a billion. With a world population of near eight billion, it will be like the meteor strike that killed the dinosaurs, and that upends the status quo in a big way, as you might well imagine.

    nk (1d9030)


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