Thursday, July 28, 2011

Intercity Buses Instead of High-Speed Rail?

Early on in my blogging career I posted several “articles” about high speed rail. You can review if you wish.

High-Speed Rail has been a gleam in the left’s eye for quite some time. But it never really gained much traction because the folks that held the purse-strings (our tax money) didn’t think Americans were anywhere near ready to put their cars in the garage and take the train. Make no mistake; Europe and Asia have had some success with high-speed rail. But none of these regions were in love with the freedom of the open road quite as much as we Americans have been.

As long as there were little to no government funding available for the projects, they were nothing more than dreams for some. That is until Barack Obama became President. Our socialist president wants us regular Americans to give up our cars and take the train. Never mind the huge outlay of cash (some estimates are well north of $1T in taxpayer money) this would require. And keep in mind we don’t even have the money because we are so far in debt now. Private business is not going to build the network because they know there is no profit in high-speed rails. He has this grand vision for a huge network of high-speed trains from coast to coast.

Image from

The Cato Institute has a better idea. Why not let the growing intercity bus market grow? Seems like a decent idea. I do remember as a kid riding the bus every summer from Redding, CA to Toledo, OR to go visit my Grandmother. The bus took us directly to Eugene, OR, where we switched to a local that took us the rest of the way. Eugene was a hub of sorts with daily (some times more often) locals heading in various directions. The bus dropped us off about a block from her house.

Could a high speed rail do that? I don’t think so. No matter how much the high-speed rail junkies try to paint it, the service for a very large percentage of Americans is just not going to cut it. I have tried to provide you with some of my opinions on the difficulties of building and sustaining a high-speed rail network with my various posts.

Please don’t get me wrong, I love taking the train. I have done so several times in my life and have loved it. But I rode for the fun, not because it was more convenient. When I drive my car, I can go door to door, so to speak. Not so with the train. I have to drive my car to the station and leave it, generally in an unsecure parking lot. Once I get to my destination, somebody has to come pick me up. Now I am at my destination and I am without a car. That’s great if I were going to an all-inclusive resort, but not so much if I am visiting family.  Yes, yes, I could rent a car and have done so in the past. But our flight to San Diego took 3.5 hours. Even on a high-speed train, it would be at least a long day, maybe even longer.

As the CATO study points out, going with buses makes sense for a lot of reasons but the one I like the most is the affordability. There is no way a train ride from San Francisco to San Diego is going to be cheaper than riding the bus. Many people are not going to be able to afford the train trip. It will be easier and cheaper to drive or ride the bus, than take the train.

1 comment:

  1. I've often wondered how us rural folks would be addressed with mass public transportation. After all, the govt wants everyone dependent on them for everything, including how and when we get around. I live 8 miles out of town. I suppose they would want us to bike in to a bike-park-n-ride.