Sunday, February 07, 2010

“Ohioans Wonder Whether New Rail Line Will Be Too Slow, Underutilized”

According to the Plain Dealer.

Fortunately, I have a master's degree in the obvious, so I can lay this disquiet to rest.

  1. The trains will be too slow. Topping out at 79 MPH? I've seen cars on 71 moving well into the 80s. Additionally, you have the added time of travel to the train station, waiting to board, travel from the station to where ever you are going. This adds aggravation as well as time to your journey.

  2. They will be underutilized. Cleveland – Columbus – Dayton – Cincinnati. On a daily basis, I can't see these things selling 80-90% of seats. Will there be multiple departures per day? If not, that adds to the travel time & inconvenience factor noted in #1. However, with multiple departures, you have more capacity to sell. Without multiple departures, car travel becomes even more competitive.

As a bonus, let's consider two additional factors.

  1. The actual cost will far exceed the $400 million in “ stimulus” money. There aren't many government projects that come in either on time or at / below budget. Just wait until every county commissioner's relative scores a payday on this boondoggle.

  2. Given the high level of price and convenience competition from automobiles, prices will have to be set low to generate ridership. That spells endless subsidies. I suspect that Amtrack hasn't earned profit dollar one, and if you can't make it on the DC-Balt-Phil-NYC-Boston corridor, what makes you think that Cleveland to Cincinnati is going to make a buck? Answer: it won't. This will be a millstone around the taxpayer's neck until it is shut down. And pols never shut down things that waste the taxpayer's money.

Economic competitiveness and future growth does not depend on herding people into uneconomic activities that only provide photo ops for politicians, along with untold millions in taxpayer subsidies.