Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Steiner book forecasts $20 a gallon gasoline, and what it means

Somebody pass this along to those Troglodytes unfortunate misinformed but well-intentioned people we discussed below who oppose HSR in Alberta Province.

TIME carries a discussion of Christopher Steimer’s $20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better.

Are there examples in other countries of large-scale projects that Americans might learn from?
I think what the Chinese are doing on many of their rail lines — vast upgrades to electrified high-speed passenger rail — is something we should emulate. Spain has revolutionized travel across their country by linking most major metropolises through a sparkling new high-speed rail network. The U.S. has nothing like it. But high gas prices will change that.

Get ready for the demise of Wal Mart, an increase in American manufacturing, and families living closer together. That sounds like a middle-class utopia. What a mess!

The transportation implications are discussed at length. One would think that sanity would prevail in public policy, but since when would that matter?


Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics

13 Responses

  1. NikolasM says:

    The danger is that if we wait for gas to get to that price (that seems very high IMO) it will be insanely expensive to actually build an HSR network, be it Maglev or standard rail. So expensive that we might just have royally screwed ourselves to third world status by making any construction a non starter.

  2. Andrew says:

    The problem with $20 per gallon gas is that it implies consumption on the order of 4 million barrels per day vs. 20 million today assuming Americans do not have lots of extra money to spend on fuel. That 16 million barrel difference means the total collapse of the import oil market in the US, because even in the relatively distant future, we will still be producing a few million barrels per year from our own reserves. However, in the distant future, most oil will be coming from oil sands, shales, and heavy oils present in this hemisphere in the American West, Alberta, and Venezueala.

    If Americans lived more like Europeans, we might be able to halve our consumption per capita, as they consume about half of what we do.

    However, this is a reduction by a factor of five. It implies a return to the mobility of the early auto era of the 1920’s at best. A family which consumes 1000 gallons today to travel about 20,000 miles per year would only have 200 gallons to possibly travel 7000 miles per year. That implies people rarely leaving their house in a liquid fueled car, even a hybrid (can’t get far on 20 miles per day).

    Even 20,000 miles of high speed rail would do nothing to accomodate this type of mobility downshift.

    $20 per gallon oil also implies a per barrel price around $800 and $8,000 per ounce gold. Is a fairly rapid 9 fold increase in the price level realisitic? And if an 9-fold increase did happen, doesn’t it imply Americans would have plenty of money to continue to monopolize the world’s oil? A 9-fold increase in prices and wages means a typical job might pay $300-$400,000 per year. With more efficient cars (say 35 mpg fleet average instead of 20 mpg), and a $20 per gallon price, a typical family might consume $12,000 in gas in a year – a pittance for a $350,000 salary.

    $20 per barrel oil seems expensive, but only when it is taken out of the context of what will happen to all other prices and wages.

  3. MadPark says:

    Had we not neglected the railways after WWII we would not be in a situation where we are not even ready for US$5 petrol, let alone US$20 petrol. So let us jack the price up NOW in both the US and Canada w/ an ever increasing petrol tax to get the urban and intercity infrastructure and trains built – the more we delay, the more it’ll all cost – even in Alberta!.

  4. Paul says:

    Amen MadPark

  5. Spokker says:


    I am an Orange County Republican who has stumbled onto this dirty liberal web site for autistic train nerds by mistake. All I want to say is that you’ll take my SUV when you pry the steering wheel out of my pure white hands.

    Orange County Republican

    P.S. Divert all trains to Mexico and you’ll solve the energy crisis LIKE THAT.

  6. Spokker says:

    Because only illegals ride public transit, you see.

    -Orange County Republican

  7. Tim Lynch says:

    Orange County Republican huh? Love it! Now get in your SUV and take Michelle Bachman out for a burger and fries!

  8. Spokker says:

    Mr. Lynch,

    Are you threatening me?! I am OC Republican! I need car subsidy for my bunghole!

    Orange County Republican

  9. T says:

    LOL X 100!!!

  10. Allan says:

    MadPark-“Had we not neglected the railways after WWII…”

    What gov’t owned railways were neglected?

    Tim, Michelle Bachman is a good-looking woman … I’d take her out!

  11. Tim Lynch says:

    You’d take a woman out who got her degree from Liberty University (Jerry Falwell), then got an equally worthless Law Degree from Regent University (Pat Robertson)?

    You’d be a lot better off taking your chances on “To Catch a Predator.”

  12. NikolasM says:

    Ah, that explains so much about that twit of a representative!

  13. Tim Lynch says:

    Wish we could be certain of that. One doesn’t have to look very far to the Right Wing. It just get crazier and worse. Yes her education is worthless, as phony as a certain Alaskan’s creds, but that couldn’t totally explain her Bat-Shit Crazy ravings. Having a Post-Election Siege Mentality (as the right wing has, maybe even prefers) just feeds it.

    My favorite memory of the esteemed congresswoman was watching her paws all over “Dubya” after one of his incoherent State of the Union Addresses. Eros, thy home is TEXAS!

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