Tuesday, August 04, 2009

High Speed Fail --

Per the OD Today Congressman Arcuri is advocating for High-Speed Rail in our area, with train stops in Utica and Rome. The reason for this:
Arcuri likened it to the economic boon provided by the Erie Canal.

“It’s about smart business, it’s about reliability and it’s about transportation,” Arcuri said.
It's really about trying to buy public support with empty words that have no facts to substantiate them.

While Mr. Arcuri should be applauded for fighting for this area's piece of the national High Speed Rail Pie, let's not kid ourselves. This will be no Erie Canal.

The Erie Canal created an economic boom because it delivered (1) significantly faster transportation at (2) significantly less cost than other modes existing at the time. In fact, in terms of miles traveled per gallon of fuel required, the canal is still the cheapest mode of transportation even after 175 years! That was a pretty amazing breakthrough.

Here there is no breakthrough. The speed increase is insignificant compared with Thruway travel when portal to portal travel time is considered. In fact, unless someone lives across the street from the train stop, travel time may be longer.

No one is even attempting to claim that this mode of transportation will be cheaper than alternatives. Considering the cost of conventional train tickets compared with bus tickets, chances are it will be considerably more expensive.

So against the currently available alternatives, high-speed rail really is no alternative...unless high-speed rail is being compared against future alternatives.

Perhaps Mr. Arcuri and his congressional cohorts are preparing us for a future where gas will be $20/gallon. Then, perhaps, High Speed Rail would be viable.

If that is the future that Congress is preparing us for . . . perhaps we should keep that in mind come November 2010.


Anonymous said...

Excellent anaysis of yet another government waste of our money. It sounds and feels good but makes no economic sense, particularly in upstate New York.

Anonymous said...

Oh, come now, THINK POSITIVE! If we just think positive, there will be magic fairy dust at every train station that will bring us to our destinations!
Thinking positive and not pointing out the chronic negatives of the area will help improve our situation... for free! THINK POSITIVE! For example:

Concerned that millions or billions of dollars are going into an ineffective train line? THINK POSITIVE! Just remember... in a century, barely anyone will care or even use the thing... like the Erie Canal!
Also think of this: The tax dollars will go into paying millions into the pockets of labor unions, so they can campaign for Democrats even more effectively during the next election year! Think positive!

Anonymous said...

Well there's your positive: Arcuri and unions seem to go hand in hand.

How does this man feel just LYING about these matters?


dave said...

Every dollar spent on moving people is a dollar that would have been better spent moving ideas. I.e., spend money on high speed communications.

(And moving goods can be the same as moving jobs.)

clipper said...

We have thrown money at the railroads for years with no major success in creating an increase in interest in passenger service.

I can see contracts given to patrons and relatives and votes garnered by flamboyant speeches and pie in the sky promises, and when all is said and done, the people of Utica can stand on the platform at Union Station and wave to the high speed train as it sails through the city at the speed of light, with it's next stop being Syracuse.

Tom Scudder said...

Since we already own the right of way near the existing train tracks, the construction would not involve brand new technology or new infrastructure, but adding a third and fourth set of tracks would allow regular trains to reach their full speed. The problem is integrating these trains into the surrounding areas. Having high speed rail at Union Station is nice, but what do you do once you step onto the platform? Take one of Utica's many reputable cab companies? Hoof it across the Genessee St. bridge? Getting people here is nice, but what then?