According to its proponents, the highly touted high-speed rail system will be a cornucopia of all that is socially and economically good — from saving ag land to improving the economy. But since high speed rail is associated with the plans of the Obama administration and its so far dubious efforts to revive the economy, it is no surprise that the incoming new governors and federal legislators are cool on the idea. No surprises there.
But we learn from today’s New York Times (Michael Cooper, Plans for Rail Projects Around the Country Are Threatened by Midterm Results, N.Y. Times, Nov. 18, 2010, at p. A14) that “more than half of the $10.4 billion the administration has awarded for rail so far has not gone toward real bullet trains, but to build slower, conventional train lines that it hopes will form the foundation of a nationwide high-speed rail network.” Surprise, surprise!
As is so often the case, the best comment was delivered inadvertently. It seems that Transportation Secretary LaHood recently attended a conference in New York, where he touted the virtues of high speed rail. So far, so good. But, in the words of the New York Times,
“At the rail conference, Mr. LaHood. . . spoke of spending $500 billion over the next 25 years to connect 80 per cent of the country with rail. Then, although the conference was in a hotel across the street from Pennsylvania Station, where Amtrack trains leave all day for Washington, Mr. LaHood left for the airport.”