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Robert Samuelson Is Dead Wrong About High Speed Rail [View All]

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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-14-11 09:28 AM
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Robert Samuelson Is Dead Wrong About High Speed Rail
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Edited on Mon Feb-14-11 04:54 PM by ProSense

Robert Samuelson Is Dead Wrong About High Speed Rail

by Something the Dog Said

The Washington Posts Robert J. Samuelson takes the Op-Ed pages of his paper to hammer the presidents high speed rail initiative today. What has Mr. Samuelsons undies in a twist? Basically a Catch-22 that he constructs by ignoring two of the central fact about rail in the United States.

<...>

Having built up his strawman, Samuelson proceeds to hammer away at the poor creature. He says:

It's a triumph of fancy over fact. Even if ridership increased fifteenfold over Amtrak levels, the effects on congestion, national fuel consumption and emissions would still be trivial. Land-use patterns would change modestly, if at all; cutting 20 minutes off travel times between New York and Philadelphia wouldn't much alter real estate development in either. Nor is high-speed rail a technology where the United States would likely lead; European and Asian firms already dominate the market.

<...>

Rail, high speed or otherwise is so much more fuel efficient that flying it is not even funny. A jet liner averages 48 passenger-miles per gallon; it sounds pretty good until you hear that rail averages 468 passenger-miles per gallon. That is todays system, and it could be much improved upon by increasing the number of passengers and the speed of the trains.

Finally Mr. Samuelson misses an important part of this program. The 53 billion spent over the next ten years will pump money into construction projects. It means steel, it means heavy equipment, it means people working in many states all of which is going to help create more demand in an economy that has all the supply it can stand (and more) and will help to bring us out of this horrendous economy the views of folks like him have brought us. At the same time it will set the stage for the larger nationwide project that our economic future may very well depend upon.

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  -Robert Samuelson Is Dead Wrong About High Speed Rail ProSense  Feb-14-11 09:28 AM   #0 
  - I read Samuelson's op-ed piece this morning, and I agree with him  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 09:30 AM   #1 
  - Why? n/t  ProSense   Feb-14-11 09:32 AM   #2 
  - Construction costs and predicted ridership have been severely underestimated,...  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 09:47 AM   #6 
     - The article is from 2006!  ProSense   Feb-14-11 09:52 AM   #8 
     - Ridership on the Sprinter is still nowhere near what was planned for  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 10:01 AM   #11 
     - Nobody Expects a FREEWAY to Make a Profit, Roads are Heavily Subsidized  AndyTiedye   Feb-14-11 10:40 AM   #14 
     - As Samuelson points out, fuel taxes more than cover federal spending on the highway system  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 12:16 PM   #19 
     - It's about the  The Wizard   Feb-14-11 03:09 PM   #57 
     - And high-speed, long distance trains use _what_ as their power source?  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 03:18 PM   #62 
     - Are you kidding?  Tesha   Feb-15-11 07:24 AM   #95 
     - To replace cars with rail  WatsonT   Feb-14-11 03:24 PM   #65 
        - Not to put too fine a point on it, but NOT doing it would also  jtuck004   Feb-16-11 11:37 PM   #111 
     - Railroads Have to Pay Real Estate Taxes on Every Mile of Track  AndyTiedye   Feb-15-11 11:25 PM   #103 
     - I think every decade since the 80s has seen gov bailouts of the airline  StarsInHerHair   Feb-15-11 10:02 PM   #97 
     - is the Amtrak Northeast corridor an acceptable rail project? (DC to Boston)  CreekDog   Feb-14-11 12:26 PM   #23 
     - Some routes make sense. Most of the country isn't like the Amtrak Northeast corridor.  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 12:38 PM   #30 
        - but you said you didn't think any rail line in the nation met your standard  CreekDog   Feb-14-11 12:40 PM   #31 
           - No, I never said that  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 12:41 PM   #33 
              - you said, "A rail system needs to pay for itself, or it's not worth doing."  CreekDog   Feb-14-11 12:52 PM   #39 
                 - Yes, and the benefits of a rail system extend beyond receipts from fares  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 12:59 PM   #44 
                    - There is a Benefit in Having a Diversity of Transportation Options  AndyTiedye   Feb-14-11 03:29 PM   #67 
                    - maybe look at Japan, and Europe and meditate on what the U.S. could do  StarsInHerHair   Feb-15-11 10:04 PM   #98 
     - Population desnity is the key  WatsonT   Feb-14-11 03:07 PM   #56 
        - I love the train system in Japan. The country is like a giant Disneyland.  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 03:15 PM   #60 
        - On density they're somewhere between Mass. and RI  WatsonT   Feb-14-11 03:22 PM   #64 
        - is it key for highways too?  StarsInHerHair   Feb-15-11 10:06 PM   #99 
  - Thanks for the link. So  ProSense   Feb-14-11 09:40 AM   #4 
  - The Internet is not a train system  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 09:50 AM   #7 
  - His entire case  ProSense   Feb-14-11 09:56 AM   #9 
     - So you're basically saying that the solution to losing money on small projects...  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 10:00 AM   #10 
        - Wait,  ProSense   Feb-14-11 10:36 AM   #13 
           - Maybe  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 12:10 PM   #17 
              - Hmmm?  ProSense   Feb-14-11 12:35 PM   #29 
                 - I'm not seeing anything that resembles a cohesive plan  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 12:42 PM   #34 
  - that poster is against government spending in general  CreekDog   Feb-14-11 12:26 PM   #24 
     - I'm against inefficient use of public money.  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 03:17 PM   #61 
     - then you must be reallyangry how they designed the county budgets so  StarsInHerHair   Feb-15-11 10:12 PM   #100 
     - Yes, despite 30 years of evidence to the contrary,  Doctor_J   Feb-14-11 06:06 PM   #88 
  - Oh, no! Lose money????  Doctor_J   Feb-14-11 11:20 AM   #16 
  - As Samuelson points out, long-term transit subsidies take money away from more important things  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 12:13 PM   #18 
  - New York City Subway? Is that subsidized? And for how long has it been?  CreekDog   Feb-14-11 12:28 PM   #26 
     - Is someone planning on building a national subway system with stops every few blocks?  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 12:44 PM   #36 
        - about the New York City subway, should it be subsidized?  CreekDog   Feb-14-11 12:48 PM   #38 
        - Your question is a Red Herring. Local transit and national transit are not the same issues.  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 12:56 PM   #41 
           - you said that "...long-term transit subsidies take money away from more important things"  CreekDog   Feb-14-11 12:57 PM   #42 
              - Your replies in this thread are argumentative. It's not a "rail is good" vs. "rail is bad" issue  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 01:00 PM   #45 
                 - but you set a standard that is likely not met anywhere  CreekDog   Feb-14-11 01:50 PM   #52 
                    - Is it "worth" subsidizing the Amtrak line connecting L.A. and New Orleans for more than $400...  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 03:12 PM   #58 
                       - is that what's being proposed for high speed rail?  CreekDog   Feb-14-11 04:03 PM   #80 
                          - I haven't seen any details on what is being proposed for high-speed rail  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 04:06 PM   #82 
                             - then why are you attacking a proposal based on the fact that Amtrak runs New Orleans to LA  CreekDog   Feb-14-11 04:18 PM   #84 
                                - I'm criticizing the idea of spending $600 billion over 20 years without a detailed financial plan  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 04:48 PM   #85 
                                   - Trying to trick us? There is no plan to spend $600 billion in 20 years  CreekDog   Feb-14-11 05:33 PM   #87 
        - if you saw a plan would you be able to recognize it?  StarsInHerHair   Feb-15-11 10:14 PM   #101 
  - A rail project will give us healthcare, jobs, and education?  WatsonT   Feb-14-11 03:03 PM   #53 
  - you're being dishonest, you stated that no passenger rail projects made money anywhere  CreekDog   Feb-14-11 12:22 PM   #22 
  - Baloney, CreekDog. I have never said any such thing.  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 12:27 PM   #25 
     - you said, "I don't know of an example, but I'm not sure there aren't any"  CreekDog   Feb-14-11 12:34 PM   #28 
     - Saying "I don't know of any" is not the same as saying that none exist  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 12:43 PM   #35 
        - then why did you say "I'm sure there aren't any" (in the same sentence!)  CreekDog   Feb-14-11 12:54 PM   #40 
           - RIF - I said "I'm _not_ sure there aren't any" as you quoted me up-thread  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 12:58 PM   #43 
              - true  CreekDog   Feb-14-11 01:01 PM   #46 
                 - PEACE!  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 01:02 PM   #48 
     - What modes of transportation are self-sustaining? eom  Hello_Kitty   Feb-14-11 03:37 PM   #71 
        - The US highway system  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 03:39 PM   #72 
           - Considering the state of many of our roads and bridges there shouldn't be a surplus.  Hello_Kitty   Feb-14-11 03:45 PM   #76 
              - Anyone remember the I-35 bridge collapse in MN?  Kennah   Feb-14-11 08:35 PM   #89 
  - What modes of transportation have been money-makers?  Hello_Kitty   Feb-14-11 03:36 PM   #70 
     - The US highway system brings in more money than it costs to maintain  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 03:40 PM   #73 
        - Not this year, apparently  Hello_Kitty   Feb-14-11 03:49 PM   #77 
           - Good catch  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 03:54 PM   #79 
  - Recommend nt  Saturday   Feb-14-11 09:32 AM   #3 
  - K&R, thank you.  great white snark   Feb-14-11 09:42 AM   #5 
  - I don't think he's "dead wrong", he makes some valid points  paulk   Feb-14-11 10:20 AM   #12 
  - A year ago when I helped a daughter plan a UK train trip, the website  karynnj   Feb-14-11 11:06 AM   #15 
  - To Those That Agree with Samuelson  Yavin4   Feb-14-11 12:18 PM   #20 
  - I'm OK with having government continue to not (net) subsidize highway travel  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 12:20 PM   #21 
     - Fuel Efficient Vehicles Are Not The Answer to  Yavin4   Feb-14-11 12:33 PM   #27 
     - Fuel-efficient vehicles are absolutely necessary and will become more important as resources dwindle  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 12:40 PM   #32 
        - Didn't Say They Were Not Necessary  Yavin4   Feb-14-11 12:45 PM   #37 
           - No, you said they were not "the" answer  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 01:01 PM   #47 
              - Fuel Efficiency Is All Well and Good  Yavin4   Feb-14-11 04:52 PM   #86 
                 - Greater fuel efficiency is a step towards progress, but not the end game  Kennah   Feb-14-11 08:40 PM   #90 
     - Interesting.  ProSense   Feb-14-11 01:13 PM   #49 
     - What do long-distance trains run on?  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 01:32 PM   #50 
        - There are always arguments against  ProSense   Feb-14-11 01:43 PM   #51 
        - Let's compare apples to apples. Amtrak claims 28% higher fuel efficiency than passenger vehicles.  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 03:05 PM   #55 
           - So  ProSense   Feb-14-11 03:21 PM   #63 
              - My replies 21, 32, and 47 are all clearly supportive of fuel efficiency  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 03:35 PM   #69 
                 - "Perhaps my point would be harder to misunderstand if I had used the term "tax penalties" Well,  ProSense   Feb-14-11 03:42 PM   #75 
        - Water and pixie dust  WatsonT   Feb-14-11 03:05 PM   #54 
           - Too late to edit, I realized a better title would be "Trains: How Do They Work?"  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 03:12 PM   #59 
     - no "the market" has never been honest, they lie about expiration dares on  StarsInHerHair   Feb-15-11 10:22 PM   #102 
  - Amtrak is a financial disaster requiring massive tax payer subsidies  golfguru   Feb-14-11 03:28 PM   #66 
  - "No thanks, no more government bureaucrats deciding what is good for us."  ProSense   Feb-14-11 03:34 PM   #68 
  - Post Office, Amtrak are never profitable  golfguru   Feb-14-11 10:42 PM   #92 
     - Post office isn't suppose to make a profit  ProSense   Feb-15-11 11:29 PM   #104 
  - If we always waited until the private sector thought things were profitable  Hello_Kitty   Feb-14-11 03:40 PM   #74 
     - Just a couple of data points here...  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 03:52 PM   #78 
     - They were government investments that private companies found practical uses for  Hello_Kitty   Feb-14-11 04:05 PM   #81 
        - They would not necessarily have ever been developed had government not started them  slackmaster   Feb-14-11 04:07 PM   #83 
           - Telephone, Transistor, Airplanes, Steam Locomotive,  golfguru   Feb-14-11 10:40 PM   #91 
              - Nice products  ProSense   Feb-15-11 11:41 PM   #105 
                 - As opposed to you, I actually worked in a government funded  golfguru   Feb-16-11 12:31 AM   #106 
                    - "The money we wasted will make you puke."  ProSense   Feb-16-11 02:04 AM   #107 
                       - Private companies have to produce PROFITS  golfguru   Feb-16-11 10:04 PM   #108 
                       - And they still waste money  ProSense   Feb-16-11 10:23 PM   #110 
                          - Profits are the surest indicator that the product or service  golfguru   Feb-17-11 01:13 AM   #112 
                       - Private companies have to produce PROFITS  golfguru   Feb-16-11 10:04 PM   #109 
     - Incorrect  golfguru   Feb-14-11 10:54 PM   #94 
  - Yeah, let's see them link Salt Lake to Denver via high speed rail.  Common Sense Party   Feb-14-11 10:48 PM   #93 
  - Its Good to Have More Options for Travel  AndyTiedye   Feb-15-11 08:43 PM   #96 
  - Priorities  lovefreedomfairness   Feb-17-11 05:14 AM   #113 
 

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