Saturday, February 26, 2011

Promises, promises. Beware of Greeks bearing HSR gifts.

This article, about a speech in Indiana by Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, is a great example of the inflated, over-reaching rhetoric of the Obama Administration's position on high-speed rail.  The President has claimed that 80% of all Americans would be "served" by high-speed rail in 25 years.  This is his Sputnik challenge. (You know, "Man on the moon in ten years, etc.") 

Actually, unlike JFK in the '60s with his promised moon shot, Obama has no such intentions. Kennedy was able to get the Congress to provide all the funds necessary for that NASA mission. After all, we were competing with the Soviets during the Cold War.   

Obama has no such Congressional support.  The money isn't there. Promising this is gross, misleading hyperbole.  Obama won't be around in 25 years as an elected official to be held accountable for his failure to deliver.  In short, it's the empty promises of politics.
LaHood talks up high-speed links in NW Indiana stop
Feb 25, 2011 7:49 AM PT
By The Associated Press

CHESTERTON, Ind. (AP) — U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says 80 percent of the country would be served by high-speed rail service once a national network of lines is complete.

How is that calculated? Is this the same thing as completing the current FRA-designated eleven high-speed rail corridors, or is there more HSR dedicated trackage involved?  We are actually a very spread-out nation.  There is no way that HSR can cover the entire US, only relatively short sections, no more than 400 miles long.  It's an empty, meaningless promise.

LaHood spoke Thursday at a luncheon of rail interests in the northwest Indiana city of Chesterton. 

He says high-speed rail could help bring public transit to areas that do not have access to airports or other means of public transportation.

He compares high-speed rail today to where the interstate highway system was 50 years ago. After half a century, the dream of a national network of interstate highways has become a reality.

LaHood likes to use the Interstate Highway System as the role model for this high-speed rail "vision." The Interstate Highway System already connects ALL Americans with public transportation.  Airport access is almost as universal in the US.  High-Speed Rail isn't going to bring anything to any town that is not already available there; that is, public transit.  What does he mean by "public transit?"  High-Speed rail will not be available to all of the public; only those that can afford the highest price rail tickets.

LaHood says high-speed rail also will bring jobs to Indiana. He says Indiana is not only the crossroads of America but also the heartland of an emerging high-speed rail manufacturing industry.

How is Indiana the "heartland of an emerging high-speed rail manufacturing industry?"  There is no HSR manufacturing industry in the US and if one is about to "emerge", it will be foreign owned and operated. 

Copyright © 2010 Associated Press.