California HSR redux
August 31, 2008 4 Comments
California High Speed Rail Blog: Taking the Coast Route purports to discuss The Transportation Experience.
It might be worth reading the book The Transportation Experience to see what Garrison and Levinson (i.e. me) actually think.
(And in contrast to the blog-author’s assertion, both gas prices and global warming are addressed as issues, with possible solutions considered).
HSR rail is ultimately gussied up rail technology, which has its niche in high density areas with available Right-of-Way (and no intervening mountain ranges). The book, and another book by Garrison, do describe other technologies that hold some promise, but this book is primarily about understanding the historical process of transportation development, and why it creates the problems we have.
The blog author here is clearly imposing his imagined assumption of conventional opposition onto Prof. Garrison, who is a very out-of-the-box thinker, who does not fall into the traps that swallow either of the ends on the conventional axis (pro-auto, pro-rail) .
There are several other issues here
Certainly $4/gallon gas is more expensive than $3/gallon gas, but we are not talking about a project (California HSR) that is even marginally cost-effective.
The cost (and energy used) in construction will be enormous.
The rail, as all transportation projects, will promote sprawled development in the Central Valley which will now be in commuting range of the Bay Area or metropolitan LA.
The question is not whether this is a project which is beneficial (which it is not), but whether it is the best use of scarce funds (which it most certainly is not). If you had $40 Billion to spend on transportation in California, what would you do, what would serve the most people the best.
Granted air travel is not terribly convenient, but once the same security apparatus is imposed on HSR (and it will be), HSR will not be the simple urban transit-like (or even Amtrak-like) experience fans would wish for.