Sunday, December 12, 2010

First stump of a rump system

Plans for high-speed rail are moving in the predictable direction: all pork and no tangible benefits. The Economist has this update which includes Pres Obama's model of travel demand.
“IMAGINE,” Barack Obama instructed Americans last year, “boarding a train in the centre of a city. No racing to an airport and across a terminal, no delays, no sitting on the tarmac, no lost luggage, no taking off your shoes. Imagine whisking through towns at speeds over 100 miles an hour, walking only a few steps to public transportation, and ending up just blocks from your destination. Imagine what a great project that would be, to rebuild America.”
This has always been the way large bets have been placed with other people's money.

Keynesian stimulus boosters either deny the public choice concern that negative NPV projects will be funded or they do not care as long as funds are spent.

Wendell Cox notes that we will probably end up with a useless rump system. The Corcoran-to-Borden stump will be first at a cost of unknown billions. Even boosters admit to just under $5 billion. Readers are welcome to look up these places and/or find them on a map.

A nearly useless rump rail transit system is what LA got. Pieces have been running for just over 20 years, but ridership is still miniscule and traffic impacts are zero.

The really interesting thing is that very few people know or care.


The Los Angeles MTA has just announced further bus service cutbacks. No reports of shutting down their high-cost rail lines.