Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

VHSR High-Speed Rail Update V. 1

A brief update on what is going on with high-speed rail in Virginia. It’s a brand new effort, lots of “content,” and fast.

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Filed under: Uncategorized

Streetsblog’s Ryan Avent addresses Glaesar’s HSR criticisms in NYTimes blog

This is from Wednesday, but it’s so good that it merits playing catchup on. Some of you have perhaps been following Edward L. Glaesar’s economic analysis of high-speed rail prospects in the New York Times economics blog over the past few weeks. The last post in the series (although he says he might revisit the topic later) appeared on Tuesday and purports to address misconceptions that high-speed rail would have a signficant effect on land-use patterns. Now, of course, we here at TFA believe in challenging ones own viewpoints, and Glaesar provides some very readable points against HSR investment. But thankfully, Ryan Avent from Streetsblog has gone to the trouble of going a little more in-depth and refuting Glaesar’s dodgy economic logic. The post speaks for itself, but I quote its conclusion as a nice summation:

If we instead build new highway and airport capacity, then that will influence future development patterns and mode share. I challenge Glaeser to demonstrate that that future is greener and better off economically than one in which rail is built.

This is the principle shortcoming of Glaeser’s analysis — that it fails to take into consideration the alternatives.

I believe that increasing metropolitan congestion, rising energy costs, changing demographics, and new transit investments will generate a shift in housing and transportation preferences in coming decades. I think it’s wise to accommodate this shift by building high-speed rail.

Glaeser seems to believe that in coming decades congestion costs will cease rising; otherwise he’d build future increases into his model. He seems to think that the addition of over 100 million new Americans need not lead to any new infrastructure investment; otherwise he’d compare the economic benefits and life-cycle emissions of rail investments to alternative investment plans.

I think those beliefs are daft and indefensible. And four posts into his high-speed rail series, Glaeser hasn’t given any of us reason to think that his analysis is worth taking seriously.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Blogs and Transportation Resources, United States High Speed Rail

New video by Onboard Midwest promotes HSR for St. Paul Union Depot

On the heels of the news earlier this summer that Ramsey County had approved the purchase of St. Paul Union Depot from the Postal Service and that its revitalization would be a part of the state’s application for rail stimulus dollars, comes this video by Onboard Midwest. Onboard Midwest seems to be a Twin Cities-based advocacy organization for Midwest High-Speed Rail, and they indicate that that Union Depot will be the terminus for the Twin Cities spur of the project.

I couldn’t find much in the way of hard evidence to either confirm or deny this. Any insights from TFA readers? In the past I’ve heard that Amtrak would be unlikely to want to move to Union Depot because it doesn’t have the service facilities that its current ugly/awful Midway Station has. Let’s hope Onboard Midwest is right about this one.

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Regional USA Passenger Rail, United States High Speed Rail

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August 2009