Rail Service Expansion Imperiled at State Level

Republicans running for governor in a handful of states could block President Obama’s plan for high-speed rail.

Comments: 125

  1. The real transportation problem in the United States as in much of the rest of the world is not travel from one down town to another but from one suburb to another. High Speed Rail is an 18th century solution to a 19th century problem. Most economic growth during the past 50 years has not been in the down towns of local metropolitan areas but in their surrounding suburbs. Very few travel hours of delay are suffered by travelers from one downtown to another but millions of person hours of delay are suffered daily by commuters from suburbs to central metropolitan down towns and from one suburb to another.

    I am a huge Obama fan but I believe that most HSR projects are simply a form of public campaign financing. The only part of these projects that ever gets financed are the engineering studies. These studies always show that the projects are feasible if certain assumptions are realized. However, when it gets down to actual dollars and cents commitments, the money always disappears because the projects have some of the worst cost/benefit ratios of any form of public funding.

    On the other hand, there is a nascent technology of automated rapid transit which uses small automated vehicles running on dedicated guideways with off-line (stations located on sidings off of the main line). This by dramatically reducing operating costs through automated operations and by dramatically reducing capital costs through the use of small light-weight vehicles, this technology can provide three to five times the service at approximately 1/10th the capital costs and half the operating cost of existing technologies.

    If a sliver of the fortune dedicated to HSR which will disappear into the ether of obsolete engineering studies was dedicated to the development of automated transit technology, the country would a whole lot better off. As would the environment.

    Automated transit will be the next huge wave of transportation infrastructure investment, on a par with the development of the interstate highway system, but it won't happen as long as we are still deluded by the false promise of high speed rail and other transportation chimeras.

  2. The short sited nature of these republicans would really set this country back. We need a national rail system and these state projects are a good start.

  3. Youy gotta wonder about Republicans. Do they just want to pay no taxes and occupy foreign countries?

  4. it's appalling that passenger rail is derided as "less free market" than federally subsidized inter/intra-state highways. C'mon--must everything be examined by some Ayn Rand paradigm?

    If anything the current gasoline/road finance system is heavily subsidizing road freight companies as your car does a tiny fraction of damage to your neighborhood interstate than a 40,000 lbs. semi-trailer.

    To borrow from econ. 101, passenger rail has lots of positive externalities (less road congestion, less pollution, encouragement of increased building density, transportation less delayed by weather, etc) that should be encouraged....as it is in literally EVERY advanced country in the road.

    Railroads are not only for European socialists! Geez.

  5. Absurd. One would almost think the GOP goes out of their way to hinder economic growth. At this point I'm not even asking for 21st century infrastructure - i'll even settle for 20th century infrastructure. Our roads, which disect cities at random, are now clogging to the point of nausea. They will not be happy until we have spread wide enough to ruin literally EVERY inch of pristine land. Why does the GOP insist on us having the transportation of a third world country? Want jobs? Build trains. Want manufacturing? Build trains. Want a modern smart growth promoting transportation grid? Build trains. Want to shoot the country in the knees and give every last penny away to corporations and the already super wealthy? Vote GOP.

    Scott

  6. If people vote for leaders on an anti-railroad platform, they deserve what they get. More traffic, more pollution, more headaches. Talk about voting against your self interest.

  7. It would be so cool if we could spend just a fraction of what we pay to kill people in other countries on high-speed rail in the United States.

  8. Regardless of political affiliation, who in their right mind would turn down federal money to build rail lines? Cheap oil and gas won't last forever, we've already seen a glimpse of that in 2007.

    My God, is there really no politician left with a single ounce of common sense in this country???

  9. How about we don't subsidize oil companies and farmers?

  10. Are Republicans "for" anything other than corporate and personal interests?

  11. Once again, the Republicans make clear that they are in the pockets of the oil and gas industry. What is the negative about good train service for these Republicans? Less money in their own pockets. They are willing to deny jobs to the citizens of their states so as to fill their own bank accounts. Just one more reason to make sure we all vote, and elect Democrats to these seats.

  12. The stupidity of the Republicans is boundless.

  13. No train for you, Cindy Lou Who.

  14. Some of these folks--if Obama was handing out free beer, they would complain about the calories. But, in a fashion, it makes sense. Rail is the future of the civilized world, and these folks want to have nothing to do with the world, with civilization, or with the future.

  15. This is so typical - Republicans want to destroy or prevent a program that could only help this country, simply because a Democrat has proposed that program. Republicans are not patriots; they want to destroy the middle class by shipping all the jobs overseas, they want to destroy the environment and oceans by drilling for oil in every conceivable location, no matter that destroying an ocean or wildlife refuge is an unrecoverable act, and they want to prevent citizens from ever having any redress against corporations. It is incredible to me that Americans are falling for these blatantly evil and destructive ideas.

  16. why is this an issue? any such project, no matter who proposed it, is years if not decades away. Obama's plans to build high-speed rail will be completed after he leaves office, even if Congress and the states involve approve it today and he serves 8 years. This is a waste of reporting time by the NY Times. You need to spend more time investigating the increase in terrorist cells within our own country who may be riding Amtrak now.

  17. No worries about California. Meg is now toast following the maid-gate's effect on the Latino vote.

  18. So flood the airwaves with commercials: "Republicans don't want you to have a job!" Seriously if Dems could grow a spine and act in the interests of the working people of this country for once, the Republican party would cease existing as a viable political force.

  19. Well of course they will. Why bring America into the 21st century at all? Come on! Let's be the only industrialized nation without high speed rail!

    But let's also make sure we can bring guns into bars.

    We are becoming the laughingstock of the world.

  20. Is there anything...ANYTHING...that the Party of No-Nothing is bringing to the table that's positive, forward-looking, and has the country's best interests at heart?!? Help me out here, folks.... What am I missing? Our clock is being cleaned on a daily basis, and the Repubs want...what?? Horse and buggy? I get more and more disgusted with them every day. I'm trying, I really am, to find a reason to go into the voting booth and NOT pull a blanket "anybody but Republican" vote.

  21. It's sad that Republicans have backed themselves into this anti-development, anti-business, anti-competitiveness position that is opposition to passenger rail just so they can burnish their no-government, know-nothing credentials. Meanwhile, China is spending $150 billion a year to build true high-speed passenger rail.

    Pride cometh before a fall.

  22. Republicans feel like chewing gum on the sole of my shoe. They have blighted the country. While they think of themselves are patriots, the bulk of them are creatures of the past who want the country to go back in time, while the rest of us want to pull it forward. Maybe a bunch of these people should emigrate back to the Old World, and let us all move forward.

  23. What a joke; light rail and high speed trains are the pipe dreams of politicians with glitzy bankrupt ideas. Who will ride the trains? You still have to lug your stuff to a cab or bus or rental car agency! Check out the Buffalo boondoggle from UB to downtown from 20 years ago. Downtown is STILL deserted! It would be a lot cheaper to use hybrid or natural gas NEW buses that could POSSIBLY break even. Unfortunately it's not glamorous, and won't create a very temporary decline in the unemployment rate.

  24. Is there anything that the Republicans are in favor of that rebuilds our nations infrastructure. Just what are the wealthy going to do with all of their money, buy immortality?

  25. Once again, the Republicans show how short sighted and narrow minded they are. We have congestion and infrastructure issues in our national highway system that we CANNOT build our way out of. Everywhere you look, you see congested highways and congested airways, leaving one good idea for moving people around this vast country - high speed, modern rail. Europe and Japan have done it, China is doing it and we dither about relatively small costs.

    When, oh when will we make policy that supports our future growth? Every small bit of spending on infrastructure is a fight now, with the only certainty that we are falling ever further behind our competitors in the race to provide a competitive environment for business to function. Business in this country is dead and buried if we don't provide the basic means for people to get around and communicate with each other at at 21st century level. If the Republicans get their way, we'll be back to gridlock and obfuscation at every level until our sclerotic government finally keels over. Sad..

  26. Train travel seems to make sense but the facts and figures really don't add up. For once the Republicans may really be on to something

  27. What is wrong with Republicans? Why are they against progress and job creation - in the United States? They were against tax reductions for small businesses. I can't believe anyone would support such policies that go against our own self-interest.

  28. These governors not only have their heads in the sand, they don't understand that capital investment in new machinery (such as high speed rail) is vital to the success of an enterprise. Would they have opposed the creation of the Interstate Highway system? Would they have a business keep using pocket calculators instead of computers? Or do they oppose the rail projects because (a) the projects are linked to Obama or (b) they owe the highway and oil lobbies something?

  29. It is not the Republicans running for governors who worry me. It is the voters who after hearing the facts, have still decided to vote for these Republicans. These guys are not kidding when they say they want to go back to the good old days of the forties and fifties. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

  30. Obama has already wasted enough of taxpayer money. He must quit spending for the final two years of his only term. He can still go to parties, play golf and basketball, but no more pretensions to large public projects. We will wait until the adults are back in charge

  31. Typical - what ever happened to the idea that in order to make money and expand your nation's economy you have to invest in things, such as transportation? Pay now and reap the benefits of your investment for generations to come. Is this rocket science?? Well, no, they're trains, and really cool trains at that and it's a real shame we will never have them.

  32. btw I should expand upon my comment re: public financing. The engineering companies which perform transportation feasibility studies tend to devote the largest share of their revenues to campaign contributions of any industry. So money for HSR The Trustees of Reservation goes to engineering studies. A large portion of those revenues turn into campaign donations. ergo HSR is a form of public campaign financing.

  33. I don't care what you have to say,
    It doesn't matter anyway,
    Whatever it is, I'm against it!

  34. Who could possibly be against railstystems? maybe, just maybe some of the people against a good, rail system should travel outside the US and get a clue. This is very disturbing. We are lagging in so many initiatives and technologies and the idea that some people would be against a rail system that connects the US and provide an alternative to air travel is beyond my comprehension.


  35. High-speed rail sounds sexy but it doesn't make economic sense. States are already strapped for cash and the billions Obama has promised don't cover the total cost of development or any of the operating costs. Most every line is already served by air, so any job gains would be offset by job losses. Most likely, the lines wouldn't be used heavily enough to offset their operating costs. But they would be used enough to hurt the profitability of the airlines, which have long struggled to consistently make a profit.

    The only argument to be made in favor of developing high-speed rail is an environmental one.

    I know, I know, they have it in Europe. Apples/Oranges. "The EU's total area is about one-third the size of the United States, but its population in 2000 was 377.6 million, compared to 284.2 million for the United States."

  36. Thousands of years from now, when historians study the decline and fall of the United States of America the names of people who have put their personal political lives ahead of such issues as infrastructure and education reform will be placed at the top of the list of those reasons which played heavily in that decline and fall.

    Shame on the conservatives on this issue! It is a sad indictment of the political climate when politicians can bank voters voting for them on Election Day due to their opposition of better rail/road/education/healthcare for the USA.

  37. It seems like the narrow-minded in this debate will get what they want: no train. And those who have any vision, beyond the word no, will get the money. I don't see any issue with this - let those who can't look into the future suffer their fates. How any representative can give back all that money astounds me, particularly in this era. In the words of Tim Gunn, "make it work, kids."

  38. This is not a surprise as the only thing they seem to want to do is to obstruct, obstruct, obstruct...from the Federal level on down (aided and abetted by FoxOpinion).

  39. Why block rail service? Why not block more highways? I don't understand this negative response to real need.

  40. "Stop the train"? This project will create many jobs and improve the quality of life for many commuters.

  41. In addition, this is really an article about political grandstanding, with the GOP in its usual form (although I agree with the candidate from Wisconsin about that state's non-need for high-speed rail), and the usual Obama-bashing. But on balance, the Dems are full of it too with this proposal, as anyone who has taken the Acela can testify ($185 r/t from NYC to DC, versus $32 r/t on the Bolt or Megabus, which is clean, comfortable and has wireless internet - guess who wins hands-down).

    The most honest statement in this article was by John Robert Smith, the four-term Republican mayor of Meridian, Miss:

    “Any notion that somehow rail is subsidized, and other modes of transportation aren’t, is simply not factual (noting that highways and airports were subsidized as well) . . . transportation infrastructure should not be a partisan issue.” 'Nuff said!

  42. Right on agenda for the basic new Republican way governing, which goes something like this "let's block everything Pres. Obama tries to do no matter how good it may be". I once waited in a unmoving train for three hours because there was only one track that was being used by both passenger and cargo. This was in the northeast of the USA in 1999. We have possiblly the worst administered, slowest, overpriced train system in all the countries that can compared in the developed world. Pres. Obama wants to improve that, but no way. These governors are busy passing laws allowing wannabe John Wayne's to carry their pistols into bars. Total stupidity.

  43. I would love to see a nationwide high-speed rail program, and I do often feel that the republicans are doing every they can to make America a backwards, ignorant, and impoverished dump. But in this case, it seems to me that the republican governors are in the right. The US government is promising a one-time chunk of money to help them build these rail lines. But the states will then be one the hook year after year for the expenses of operating them. If I were a governor, republican or democratic, in a cash-strapped state, I would probably want to get out from under this long-term financial obligation.

  44. If high-speed rail were economically viable, it wouldn't take tax money to bring it to market. After how many decades of failure with Amtrak, why in the world would anyone believe that the federal government is going to succeed with a vastly more expensive form of rail transport?

  45. It seems like the rows of expensive cars with one or two passengers traveling the nations interstate highways are a kind of train. When the cost to Americans of fuel, auto, highway and the inevitable loss from highway accidents is factored in, how could we think of trains and public transportation as expensive?

  46. Even T.B. Pickens, who was pushing natural gas just a couple of years
    ago, has given up. You don't need research, just look at Europe. The
    wife has 'Dish' from Warsaw, and she goes every year. Even the police
    cars are small. Just buy a 2012 Focus, which is supposed to be even
    nicer than a Kia Forte, and forget about those rich transit workers.In
    Chicago, the Chicago Transit Authority is asking the state for money
    from the farmer's pockets to pay the transit workers.Forget public transit.

  47. The Wisconsin guy is totally spot-on.

    The train won't go to downtown Madison (where the 45000 carless students are), and won't go to useful spots in Milwaukee either. It parallels an interstate with a 70+ speed limit and frequent low-cost bus service.

    The train won't attract the students, and it won't serve the vast majority of residents of Madison. The only thing it MIGHT do is make the Milwaukee airport more accessible for vacation travelers.

    This hardly seems worth a giant ongoing subsidy, especially when we could make the competing bus FREE forever for the same price.

  48. I do not support Obama. But I do support high speed intercity, interstate, regional and cross country rail. I also support expansion of light rail and monorails across the country. I also support a major, major expansion of alternative energy generation, including solar electric, windpower, waterpower, and nuclear. The US needs not only to be installing all of this but designing and manufacturing it. We need to establish partnerships with other nations where we do not presently have all the technologies that are needed. But now is the time to aggressively transform our nation to the new transportation and energy generation waves of the future. China, the world's largest dictatorship is making us look pathetic in this regard. As the world's greatest democracy and model of capitalism and free enterprise, we should be doing a lot better.

  49. Why am I not surprised? Is there any evidence that the welfare of the country trumps Republican special interest or downright contempt for the president who was elected by this this country?

  50. I thought it's important to put people back to work. I bet $8 billion of rail projects creates a lot of jobs.

  51. The problem with the plan for OH High Speed railroad is that public transport in Cincinnati- Columbus and Cleveland are not particularly convenient, and is a poor substitute for an automobile. So unless there are complementary investments in local transit that make it more convenient for folks that take the regional high speed rail to get around time once they are in town, it might not attract a lot of riders unless the price of gasoline shot up again.

  52. If there is one thing I'll say for just about any Republican candidate I have reviewed it is: 1) Common talking points; 2) Very limited analysis of the issues; and 3) No specific and concrete proposals.

    Scott Walker, the gubenatorial candidate for Wisconson has the following points about jobs for Wisconson: a) Lower taxes; b) Eliminate red tape; c) Eliminating government red tape in health care (not sure where that comes in since people < 65 and the gainfully employed don't have access to Medicare or Medicaid; d) Invest in education; and e) Invest in infrastructure and f) reform the legal system. On some points, Scott sounds almost like a Democrat but then again this is Wisconson.

    Okay so why oppose high-speed rail? It works very well in Japan and throughout Europe. China is investing heavily in high-speed rail. Since I have to pay taxes anyway, I'd be very happy to have my dollars go to infrastructure that 1) could use our own natural resources (gas or coal) to provide the electricity; 2) moves a ton of freight 100 miles on a gallon of fuel; and 3) requires several million dollars per year to maintain. How much does the existing highway based infrastructure in Wisconson cost to maintain? How much do individual automobiles cost to maintain? How much of our military and strategic policy is based on maintaining access to oil from the Middle East? Where is the analysis from our supposed political leadership.

    Just plain tired of all the sophistry and sophmoric rhetoric.

  53. Really how surprising that the GOP would and do, do anything to stop meaningful progress in the US.

  54. This is just another example of having a vision for improvement and positive change vs Republicans, who's vision seems to be stuck in the 19th century. Wake up and smell the future!

  55. How can one political group be so wrong on every single issue? At this point they must decide every position based on partisan opposition to anything the left and center believe. What happened to smart conservatives, people who could actually get behind good ideas when they heard one?

  56. I really dont believe these people, dont they ever have a glance around the world and see how successful these projects are. I would suggest they dont actually care.

  57. There was a time when passenger rail travel served a national purpose. After Boeing introduced the 707, and the Interstate Highway System was completed, rail travel only made sense between large cities on the East Coast. Unless highways are decommissioned, and the nations major airports are closed, high-speed rail will be just one more expensive solution in search of a problem.

  58. High speed rail threatens the auto industry, tire manufacturers, air lines etc.etc. Europe and Asia has had high speed rail for decades. Is there any question as to why the party of NO and corporate America wants no part of progress?

  59. So, no word about the billions of dollars in tax revenue generated by the jobs these rail constructions provide? rail lines (especially cargo lines, and passenger lines where they still matter- read NY, DC, London, Tokyo or Singapore) pay for themselves admirably, even at current fuel costs. Gas prices aren't going to go back down in any meaningful way, folks... rail is a good alternative. The longer the trip, the better the trade off.

  60. The Republicans are absolutely insane. Sorry, there is no other word for it.

    The rest of the industrialized world builds trains that make anything in the United States, even the vaunted and rather nice Amtrak Acela look simply pathetic.

    Just this morning, I read this: http://inhabitat.com.../ China, once again smashes another high speed rail record. China has built more high speed rail in the last several years than we could ever dream of doing.

    The GOP will kill passenger rail again because it hurts the oil companies. Then, they cry crocodile tears as to why the United States is being beaten left and right by countries like China.

    I can't wait a few years after Governor Christie single handedly kills the new tunnel under the Hudson and the cries about how Amtrak and NJ Transit can't keep up with growing ridership.

    For anyone who wants to insure the demise of the United States, keep voting in the Republicans. They are very good at destroying everything they touch...budgets, countries, rights, etc.

  61. I suspect if you dig far enough you will find that opposition to trains is an ideological position of the New Right. We've seen it for several years here in central Pennsylvania, where the staunch opposition of two of the three Cumberland County commissioners has blocked progress on a regional rail project favored by all the other counties around Harrisburg, Pa., the state capital.

  62. Please, may my party (the GOP) show some intelligence and forward thinking in this matter. Yes, if there is no foreseeable economic benefit, then perhaps plans for certain rail lines should be looked at very cautiously. However, my fear is that railroads will be regarded as sailing too close to the "common good," and we, the GOP, that is, certainly can't have that.

  63. The federal government should just withhold highway funds from states that do not cooperate on the high-speed rail plan. That tactic has worked to enforce the drinking age.

  64. I took an overnight train several weeks ago, and it was between 2 cities, not vacation destinations. Every sleeping compartment was sold out and so were all the seats. It was packed both ways. We shared a dinner table with an investment banker and his wife. There was every financial segment, from upper middle class (maybe even wealthy) on down. Students, families with kids, retirees, business people, couples, singles. People were going to school, reunions, weddings, on business trips. Some people were on the train because of the cost--in some cases a tenth of the airfare. Some liked the convenience--get on and off in cities, no airports, check in, luggage restrictions. Some were on because it's a lot more "green" than a plane or a private car. And some just love trains.

    This is not some transient thing. This country needs trains and the governors who are rejecting this plan are absolutely not aware, or not paying attention.

  65. Every proposed train named in the article is within a single state. Japan and China build theirs without regard to provincial boundaries, making them links in a truly "national" network. I see no sign that these installations are part of a plan - a vision of something that will be truly national in nature and useful to the country as a whole.

    As attractive as "high speed train" sounds, each must be self-sustaining - either as built or as part of a larger system to follow. I live in Wisconsin and can assure you that a train between Milwaukee and Madison would NOT pay for itself - not for construction nor for sustained operation.

    I, for one, have had all I can take of the "spend like there's no tomorrow" approach. It's MY MONEY the administration is waving around.

    A vision of high-speed rail transportation is laudible, but let's see a plan - one that includes analysis and cost estimates.

  66. Although I consider myself an environmentalist Democrat, some of these porposed trains, including the one here in Ohio, don't make much sense. The cities here in Ohio, unlike places like New York or Washington, pretty much require that you have a car once you get to the other end. So even if it was only two hours from Cleveland to Cincinnati, you'd still have problems once you got off that train.

    Outside of the really big metropolitan corridors, what is more needed is an AutoTrain like the one currently running from Washington DC to Florida: load your car on a train for what would be a sixteen hour drive, and then let the train take you and your car to the other end.

    For most such routes, good, but not ultrahigh speed, service would be very sufficient. Routes like Chicago to Cincinnati to Atlanta to Florida would be ideal places to start.

  67. Where is mention of the sustainability issues? Relying on auto transportation is pure folly. Are our politicians too shy to mention the inevitable rise in auto fuel prices?

    A high speed rail system is forward thinking, and long overdue. But the compromise solution may do harm to the scheme, as the article indicates. Perhaps building some links for the high speed trains will help stimulate use of those shorter, slower connections.

  68. What is new, Republicans preventing or delaying progress is something we have been aware of for many years. Come November, any reference to a Republican will get my NO VOTE.

  69. Republicans are united in their efforts to see that no improvements in America happen during the Obama administration. Then they can turn around and say he was ineffectual.

  70. Yesterday I went from downtown Madrid to downtown Barcelona in Spain's AVE, high speed train. 2 hours and a half of reading and working on the laptop. No lines, no delays, no taking off shoes nor belt. No travelling from airports to hotels through dense traffic. By car, the same trip would have taken 6 hours. Yummy.

  71. Maybe instead of Republicans they should just call themselves Rejectionists.

  72. Nothing like destroying your local economy to sabotage the national one.

  73. Really? They've sunk that low? Quite revealing.

  74. It must be easier to get bribes er.....political donations from other sources.

  75. How much more evidence is needed to see the Party of Nope is exactly what this country does not need. The threat to America from AlQueda is paled in comparison to the treasonous threat from these tiny minded individuals. If they were in charge during the American Revolution, we'd still be drinking tea, if they were in charge during the Civil War, we'd still have a two tiered society, if they were in charge during the Second World War, we'd be in really deep trouble now. Dwight Eisenhower would not recognize the GOP of today. As Limbaugh said, they want to see America fail. Well, guess what, we're not going to let you!

  76. The California HS rail plan (a $46B boobdoggle) is meeting a lot of resistance in its plans to ccme down San Francisco's Southern Peninsula, disrupting many communities, and from there, across into the Central Valley to pick up the main track. By most accounts, it depends on exaggerated ridership and optimistic cost-to-build assumptions...which, of course, we will not know if they are right or wrong until we have built it. Unlike Boston, DC and NYC, there is little public transit in any of CA cities that measures up to East Coast cities (take a cab?), or Europe or Japan (where everyone lives on the east coast in a few mega-metropolises.

    Oh yes, CA already has a well-developed air transit system...3 airports in the SF area (SJC, SFO, OAK), four in LA area (SNA, LAX, ONT and BUR)and one in San Diego (SAN)...with Hertz and Avis waiting for your business when you land..

    This is no Republican conspiracy; the HS rail plan in CA is a waste of money, and we do not have any more to waste. Almost all fixed rail transit in CA is buoyed up with huge PUBLIC subsidies. We do not need another hangover.

  77. Meanwhile, China is already operating over 4000 miles of high-speed rail, more than any country in the world, and its expansion is ongoing and exponential. You know - the country whose currency is causing all our problems.

  78. The myopic vision of some in this country is stupifying. In contemporary society no form of transportation "pays for itself" -- airlines don't cover the costs of airports; cars and trucks can't cover the costs to build or especially, maintain roads. Not all people can (or should) drive -- the young, the elderly, some handicapped, etc.. How about those who don't want to drive or fly --

    Finally, development follows transportation (not the other way around) -- what better way to reinvigorate cities and towns that grew up as railroad towns...and private reinvestment (not to mention a change in our pattern of development isn't social engineering, it's fiscal conservativism...reuse infrastructure (water, sewer, power-lines; schools, streets, sidewalks; police and fire, etc.) that's already paid for before spreading out into places without these services -- or, make developers pay the real price for all of it out there in the hinterlands. They can and will if there's a profit in it for them. In the interim, stop subsidizing private development of farms and automobile-only development.

  79. Is there anything the GOP can't turn into a partisan issue?

    It's simply astonishing that serious candidates for political office can argue that big infrastructure improvements can be bad for business. An efficient high-speed rail link would be a terrific boon to the economy. That's 21st century America for you . . . .

  80. The Republicans are truly the Luddites of our time...... let's hope they go away quickly so that we can be prepared for the future. It always seems that the Republicans are surprised by events..... the failure of their Iraq War "plans", the huge deficits fueled by the Bush Tax Cuts, the collapse of the economy, the failure of TARP to get the economy going again. On and on. I can se it now..... 10 years hence when gas is $6 per gallon and people really need more mass transit they will again be surprised.

  81. And the Democrats cannot believe that someone would turn down free money. They really believe it is free! I am amazed at that revelation. These rail lines will be a huge waste of money and effort. Yes it will create jobs, but so will digging a hole and filling it back up again. The hole, however will require no maintenance cost.

    We borrowed 823 billion that will have to be paid back. And unless we are in a permanent recession, interest on that debt will be considerable. It is bad enough this gang of spendthrifts (and yes ex-Pres. Bush that includes you and yours) is not at all frugal with our money, but to seek to flush away that wish we have borrowed is borderline insane. November can't come soon enough.

  82. US if you let yourselves be conned by the GOP luddites you deserve it. I took the high speed rail between Madrid and Seville this spring and it was a dream. Comfortable and averaging 100 mph. The US could transform its intermediate/long distance transportation system with this. Don't be fooled again.

  83. We don't need this. It does not service the needs of the wealthiest Americans.

  84. I rode the Acela train, first class, for the first time to New York from Boston in August to catch a Red Sox/Yankees game (Sox won) with my brother, father, and nephew and we all thought the train ride was great. What a change from the worn out commuter rail service I took for years for my commute into Boston from the burbs!

    I don't pretend to know a lot about mass transit in this country- but I just don't get the lack of good train service in this country. It is such a pleasant way to travel and it seems to me that this is the sort of thing all modern countries should have- high speed rail between cities. I don't want to impugn the motives of the politicians opposing such plans (I'm sure they have their reasons) but frankly- me suspects that somewhere behind all this "opposition" are some big interests that don't want people to have options when it comes to travel.

    New England as a region should go ahead with its own high speed rail system regardless of what the rest of the country does.

  85. Their opposition is based on unjustified forecasts that no one will ride the train, that $810 million is too much to spend no matter whose tax money it is, that people would always rather drive in their own vehicles, and to rub it in, use of hysterically childish phrases like "ghost train" and "choo-choo". It is selfish greed, pure and simple, amplified with histrionics that squashes all serious planning of our transportation future.

  86. Just another level of GOP blockage. Just say "NO!" is the real GOP slogan.
    Not interested in American jobs, building the infrastructure for the future. Nothing that might have any positive effect on the country if it might also be positive for President Obama.

  87. In my opinion the Republican party is inhabited by a bunch of "Crazies"

  88. Good. Don't give them high speed rail. Circumvent those states. Let them wallow in their bad decisions.

  89. Seemingly wafting over the heads of most involved with this is the obvious link between its future
    necessity and our present need for useful employment. Cars trucks and expressways ARE on the endangered species list because oil WILL become increasingly expensive. Rail is ten times as efficient. The roadblocks are many: the as-yet lack of need. The substitution of high-priced
    labor for common labor (think unions). absurd roads to nowhere (think Las vegas). Lack of innovation (trains do not need to stop to exchange passengers) I have little hope.

  90. I'm all for developing high speed rail. However, the proposed Florida project to connect Tampa and Orlando is nothing but a give away to Disney. I certainly would not want any money coming out of my pocket for a corporate junket train. Folks heading to the Magic Kingdom fly direct to Orlando. Orlando is nothing but a tourist destination. As a former Wisconsin resident, my humble opinion regarding high speed between Madison and Milwaukee is also negative. Both cities have excellent airports and the drive is a matter of two hours.
    Long distance East to West or North to South, hitting major cities in between. That would provide a basis for steady consumer use. But of coarse that is a pipe dream. Now if we had an extra trillion dollars or two...
    Japanese and European trains actually go somewhere.

  91. "Backwards". That's the best definition of this new breed of Republican/Tea Party candidates. Very soon China will start looking like a more progressive place to live.

  92. Why do we need trains, we already have cars.

  93. As an Independent voter in California, this gives me one more reason to vote for Jerry Brown for Governor. Methinks the Republicans may be counting their electoral chickens too soon. I truly cannot believe that Americans are stupid enough to hand them back the reins of power, when they have nothing to offer us but more economic disparity between haves and have-nots. The Democrats are far from perfect, but at least they try to help working people.

  94. Sad times for America when vision is wasted. The rest of the world is passing you by particularly China at 300km(200+ mph) not 70 mph. While the rich get richer and the Americans race to 3rd world status continues thanks to Republicans. Good luck with that.

  95. China builds high speed rail left and right, investing in the future. Meanwhile, America cancels its manned moon mission while these narrow, myopic candidates, with the exception of the one in Mississippi you mentioned, are railing against high speed rail (pun intended), thus ensuring that we're locking ourselves into a permanent competitive disadvantage.

    We are showing the world that we no longer want to dream big or think about the future; we only seem to want to pine for a past that never was.

    This is a crying shame.

    There will be 100 Million more people inhabiting America by 2050. Investing in high speed rail projects that will be operational by the 2020's is not "reckless spending". It's investing in the future.

  96. Having traveled through Europe last year by train I can tell you that it's the way to go. It's a discrace that we don't have a similar train system in this country, it's about time we got one.

  97. Two years hard work nothing to show besides using for election propaganda.Obama need at least 100 years of one party system to improve our life.What a nonsense election became.Without election voters will have a new train.So decide it now- train or election.

  98. Are Republicans today actually capable of being FOR anything constructive? All I ever hear is NO. No high speed rail, no medical insurance reform, no extension of subsidies for the unemployed, no green industries, no taxes. How can you hope to run a country on a platform that consists of being against everything except cutting taxes on the wealthy and rewarding corporations that take away American jobs?

  99. i am a milwaukeean who hopes and prays that walker is defeated this november. the amtrak between chicago and milwaukee is one of the most profitable routes across the nation, and whenever i ride it, it is packed. my son goes to school at uw-madison, and i would definitely use the train to go to madison versus that utterly boring stretch of i-90 between milwaukee and madison. you might even get me to go to st. louis or minneapolis.

    scott walker has already run our milwaukee county government into the ground. i sure hope he doesn't get a chance to do the same with our state government.

  100. Do the Republicans go out of their way to not make sense?

  101. Fine with me if the people in Wisconsin and Florida reject the Federal support with their gubernatorial votes. There are plenty of projects along the NE corridor, centered in Chicago and along the California N/S axis that could use an increased share of that 8 billion!

  102. The Republicans have a political agenda of rebuilding the economy......the Chinese economy that is.

  103. We should electrify freight roads first and use the railroad right of ways to link wind and solar resources to Federal hydropower systems at Bonneville and Western Power. See Burlington Northern Chairman Matt Rose and his comments in Journal of Commerce at: http://www.joc.com.... Such a project would be a real job creator with environmental and efficiency benefits, saving on imports of fossil fuel and opening up huge markets for renewables. Not only that, but Homeland Security has discussed the added benefits of having a coast-to coast non fossil fuel freight link.

    For details on who supports railroad electrification and history of federally funded railroad electrification projects,and the corporate stupidity that led to the downfall of the Milwaukee's electrification program, see 'American Back on Track, an Electrifying Idea' at: http://somewhatlogically.com/?p=60

  104. To Rick (#52): Scott Walker's sole plan is to cut spending, then cut more, then cut more, and if anyone is hurt by it, like the fifteen-year-old boy who was killed when a panel fell off a Milwaukee County-owned parking garage, shrug and find a Democrat to blame. He has no vision at all for Wisconsin, which is sadly not surprising considering he dropped out of Marquette University with a 2.5 grade-point average.

    Scotty's entire platform is to cut spending, cut taxes for the wealthy, and blame the Democrats for all it's worth.

  105. I'm a Democrat, and I take the train often, but even I'm unsure of supporting this idea.

    If the Dems want me to "get on board" then spell out the plan for cryin' out loud!

    Right now, like so many other issues, it doesn't seem like there is a single, coherent plan.

  106. Not a single comment, so far, from or about Florida. The last Republican governor, Jeb Bush, stopped a high speed rail project that was ready for construction, so I guess our next governor, Republican Rick Scott, is expected to do the same.

    The Tampa to Orlando rail service, if built, was likely to have become a sort of extended theme-park ride, giving tourists going from Disney World to Busch Gardens a taste of Europe or Japan, depending of the hardware. A longer, costlier link from Orlando to Miami never seemed likely to happen.

  107. What can I say.....the party of No! strike again...and they will win again and again if you vote Republican in November...Haven't we learned anything from the last republican aministration?? Wake up America get these negative people out of office...we want to go forward not backward.

  108. Sorry, not economically feasible. Just look at Amtrak...

  109. So predictable.....Republicans travel in SUVs....not trains

  110. It was a ridiculous idea in the first place. Anyone who has ever been on public transportation or bought a postage stamp knows what a waste of time and money it is.

  111. It's time to round up republicans and throw them in prison.

    All of them.

  112. If these politicians block this expansion, then they only represent themselves, not the people and they will make America graduate as a third world country.

  113. Another strike against Whitman. The high speed rail project connecting major california cities is a win-win-win. It would be a much needed investment in our transportation infrastructure while at the same time creating jobs and reducing pollution and airport congestion.

  114. To be a Republican, one has to basically crew their skull cap off, pull out the brain and theow it in the garbage. That's all it takes. Know nothing.

  115. Per Comment #90, the proposed California HSR line will link the San Francisco Bay area with Anaheim (home of Disneyland). Neither the Bay Area nor the LA basin has the population, population density or public transit infrastructure required to make the venture economically feasible.

  116. This is amazing and almost unbelievable. Not only do Republicans block
    any type of energy legislation in the Senate but now they want to stop
    the trains. When you look at what happened this summer around the world
    with the extreme heat in Moscow, the flooding in Pakistan, and the record temperatures that occured in this country then you can see that
    if we do not do something about CO2 output then we will be in very deep
    trouble in the years and decades ahead. This train system may not be
    the world's greatest; but, at least it is a step in the right direction.
    We must act on climate change and we must act now. Build the trains!

  117. Other than cheese and watching the occasional Packers game, who really cares about Wisconsin anyway?

  118. Oh that's a laugh. Like we saw even project signage hinting at such high-speed rail fables so far.

    We're not missing anything.

  119. Anything to stop recovery -- Get rid of the RepublicNO's

  120. China has built and is building thousands of miles of high speed rail lines. Meanwhile, the US barely has a passenger rail system, a freight rail system that operates on roadbeds set out 100 years ago, an air traffic system based on 1960 technology (radar), and a somewhat deteriorated interstate highway system.

    Thank you, Republican governors. You'll make certain that the US has a transportation infrastructure that's as good as its school systems--around 23rd or 24th place in the western world.

  121. How FDR’s words ring true …

    “A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward.”

    The Do-Nothing GOP’s lack of vision and common sense will keep us stuck in 20th century. Elect Democrats in November to leave your children and grandchildren a better future.

  122. "The short sited nature of these republicans would really set this country back. We need a national rail system and these state projects are a good start."

    "Less free market..."

    Are you kidding me? There is nothing free market about it. From this statement it's pretty clear you don't even get the concept of a free market. Sounds like your idea of a free market is government footing the bill for a service that the private sector should already be working on.

    Do we need a national rail system? Well, we need high speed rail service, but we don't need the federal government footing the bill. The federal government should be offering tax incentives for the private sector to invest in and implement high-speed rail network technology. The government can help secure rights-of-way for high speed rail lines. But the government certainly doesn't need to be building it, promoting it, sustaining it, or any of a thousand different things the private sector does so much better.

    The government is good at incentivizing; the private sector is good at innovating and implementing. If high speed rail in the US can't gain traction using this paradigm, then we shouldn't have one.

  123. I'd be riding trains in a heartbeat if there were any in my corner of the country. Relaxing, watching scenery or reading instead of driving, increased safety, greater fuel efficiency, meeting fellow travelers--we in the US are missing so much that makes sense by having let our rail network disintegrate. The Republicans don't want to just take us back to the Bush years, they want to take us back to 1789, and we'll continue to lose ground compared with forward-thinkers in Europe and Asia until we go the way of Rome. Scary people hoping to take over and stop any kind of progress.

  124. Pardon me, but for some odd reason I believe that the states know what type of service they want, need or can afford to have operating within their borders. Of course, most liberals will disagree with the notion of a decentralized government. Still,it is nice to see all you liberals apoplectic and screaming hate into the void. I just can't wait for November. There going to have to hide your belts and shoelaces after the election.

  125. Alert! Alert! We've found a sane Republican! Alert! Alert!

    Thanks, Mr. Smith of Mississippi, for being the first I've seen in a long while to have the courage to point out when your fellow conservatives are wrong. It is patently obvious that all forms of transit are heavily subsidized, and it is idiotic to insist that railo not be while ignoring the massive subsidies to its competition.