Dow Jones files a report from Austin that may become formative in transportation discussions.
“I’m concerned (the money) will be spread like peanut butter” nationwide and have little impact, said Chief Executive Matthew K. Rose, speaking to the Austin Economic Club, a local business group. “I’m afraid it’ll be a missed opportunity.”
The federal stimulus package includes $8 billion in seed money for development of high-speed passenger rail service, and U.S. President Barack Obama also has called for an additional $5 billion over the next five years.
Rose sees little benefit for operating “host” railroads, and emphasizes the cost of developing 15-2- true HSR corridors. Nonetheless, he seems genuinely supportive of the concept.
Additionally, Rose says he sees no momentum for HSR in Texas and contends that nobody in D. C. is talking about the Texas T-bone.
Rose focuses the debate as the development of true European style HSR. At TFA, we have been supporting an incremental approach. The disadvantage of this is exactly what Rose contends, HSR never happens anywhere.
Politically, our position has the advantage of giving various constituencies a tiny slice of the pie and there is an improvement in local rail service. One point to remember is that we are in a transportation deficit because of interest based political decisions. If our viewpoint prevails, true HSR is moved to an indefinite future time.
Rose stakes out a reasonable position. Devoting the entire $13 billion to a single European style HSR project makes completion much more likely. In our political climate, his purist position, while containing many positive attributes, is unlikely.
It benefits those of us who support a rationale transportation policy to be intellectually honest about the choices and their consequences.
This may sound very trite, but I think we might all want to remember that we live in a very imperfect world. This ain’t Burger King and we can’t always have it our way.