Low Speed Rail
January 8, 2014 at 10:12 am
Reader-Participant-Watchdog-Community Member-Content Co-Creator Colin77 makes a shrewd point about a Times news article about high speed rail in California:
Towards the article's conclusion we find this:
If completed, the train line would take travelers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2 hours 40 minutes. By car, the trip takes close to six hours.
OK, but how about by airplane, which would require no additional infrastructure investments? And how much would that ride cost in each mode of transportation? If we factor in the $68 billion for the rail line's construction and however much is spent on the highway and compare to the two, how much does it cost the state for someone to take a train versus driving their car (as well as the cost of an unsubsidized ticket vs. the cost of taking the car with gas, insurance, etc)? Isn't that important to know in attempting to figuring out the cost-benefit analysis? Why are we presented with one obvious advantage of taking the train but are left in the dark about the costs of this hypothetical LA-SF trip?
The average reader may very well see the difference in time travel and conclude the train is an obvious winner, when in fact the calculation is much more complicated than what the NYT lets on.
The Times itself reported recently on a new airline, Surf Air, offering flights between Burbank, in Southern California, and San Carlos, in Northern California. Southwest Airlines flies the Burbank to Oakland route with scheduled flying times of between an hour and ten minutes and an hour and twenty minutes, for fares as low as $54 one way. Leaving out the airplane comparison while leaving in the "by car" comparison is a subtle way for the Times to skew the debate and make it look like spending $68 billion mostly taxpayer dollars on a railroad is a good idea.
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