Tuesday, March 03, 2009

High Speed Rail?

Utica Daily News had this article: Utica mayor to meet with senator in support of High Speed Rail

State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith is pushing a "high speed" rail project to connect Buffalo to NYC.  Mayor Roefaro is joining in.

I have to support Mayor Roefaro on this.  IF this project is implemented, UTICA MUST be part of it. This area has been left off the roster too many times from other state projects.

That said, is this something that we should be pursuing at this time?  

For this same "Empire Corridor" from Buffalo to NYC, wouldn't it make more sense, be a bigger economic boost, and be a lot easier to implement and quicker TO SIMPLY REMOVE THE TOLLS FROM THE NYS THRUWAY?????

Somehow "high speed rail" has suddenly become a mantra.

“There is no question whether or not New York needs high speed rail, because the answer is yes, definitely," Arcuri said in a prepared statement.

"No question whether or not New York needs high speed rail"? I think that is a very big question. Are there any studies to support the alleged need? Or projections with supporting data of what the economic impact of high speed rail will mean?


The first question is what is "high speed?" If you are talking 300 mph, there MAY be a potential to transform the economy, because with travel time to NYC being less than an hour, it plugs Utica into the NYC commutter zone. If we are talking only 150 mph, that is unlikly to transform anything. For most people, any time savings over thruway travel will be eaten up getting to and from the train station.

The second big question is what will it cost to operate the system. What will a ticket cost? If costs can be reduced to make it feasible to do a ROUND TRIP fare from Utica to NYC in the $30-50 range (IE similar to commutter fares from Suffolk County into NYC), then high speed rail might have some potential -- But right now low speed rail is about double this cost already, so high speed rail will likely be more expensive. 

In its era, the Erie Canal was a brilliant government move. It enabled goods and raw materials to be transported at extremely low cost and at a competitive speed compared to other modes of transportation at the time. It transformed the economy of Upstate NY. Even now, its ability to transport heavy materials at the lowest fuel cost is unmatched . . . but now the canal lies virtually unused. 

What "need" is this project going to fill? If people jump on the train, what part of the economy will lose?

It's fun to dream about being able to zip from one place to another. And its OK for public officials to be thinking about things that could transform our economy. But it is quite another for public officials to latch onto something as the "big solution" to our problems without the facts and data to support their conclusion.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly. There are no plans, no cost projections, where is it going to go. Whose backyard is it going to affect? Who can afford to be on it. How many times will it be used? I am not a naysayer, but these people just keep spewing ideas with no substantial information. It is absoultely BS. Gee these people just keep talking and talking and nothing comes out as any sense. When all this money runs dry and there are no more free pork projects they will resort to really having to work and do something to get a vote. As far as I am concerned I have not seen anything but pork projects in my entire life. Great for the ones who receive them but nothing for the total cause. How about all the shovel ready projects? Most we see so far is a bunch of blacktop projects. Great for the blacktop plants locally. After that what? These people should be scrambling with the plans in hand had they any plans at all. Maybe the Town of NH can get that bridge after all. Is it designed? Lets get going!!!

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, a dream it will stay.

Greens and Beans said...

There is no question that high speed rail service would be nice. But “nice” is not necessarily what upstate needs to cure the virus that has infected the retarded condition of the upstate economy as a whole.

High speed rail service may better benefit the communities between New York and Albany. A rapid commuter rail system between these two points will permit New York City workers to look for safer and more affordable housing beyond the confines of the ultra expensive metropolis of New York. But to have these commuters relocate to areas like Utica and Rome, the rail system would have to be a non-stop three hundred mile per hour system. And this is highly unlikely.

Connecting the cities beyond Albany would be “nice” for the tourism, golf and gaming aspects of the upstate economy. However I agree with Strikeslip, to foster real manufacturing high tech jobs in this area, upstate needs to remove the chains that severely handicap the ways and means to import and export goods and services produced in upstate communities. Upstate will need a free highway system. Simply lift the NYS Thruway tolls for upstate communities and watch their economy rebound.

Greens and Beans said...

Previously in this blog, I alluded to the recreational benefit of having a high speed rail system here in upstate, but who would it really benefit?
• The cultural aspects of Utica? YES. It would enable people who live in other cities to take part in enjoying the Utica Zoo, Munson Williams Institute, The Stanly Performing Arts Center, The Children’s Museum, and the Val Bialas Ski and Recreation Center.
• Shopping Malls, Hotels & Motels and Restaurants? YES.

However, the fact of the matter is that shopping would, in all likelihood, go to the Carousel Center Mall in the Syracuse area. The non-taxpaying Oneida Nation’s Campgrounds, Turning Stone Casino, Championship Boxing and PGA Golf Courses would sap most of the fair weather recreation dollars. Manufacturing jobs would still be in an inferior position in terms of providing stable and good paying jobs to our residents.

Anonymous said...

Let's be honest with ourselves, our cultural/ tourist attractions are nothing unique minus the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I really don't see anyone paying big money for a train ticket to visit Utica to go to the zoo, arts stuff, ski area or our run down malls. Just doesn't make sense when there are far superor same in other cities. Not to mention a train already exists and it doesn't bring anyone into our area now.

Actually, the whole high speed train doesn't make sense. Take the tolls of the t-way is the answer.

onjeesun said...

A high speed train would benefit those looking to leave this area as fast as they could... but the money our area would see would only be a one time shot (much like many of the brilliant ideas currently under consideration to rescue us from the brink of financial disaster).

Is it any wonder why some people just go postal?