Friday, April 17, 2009

Obama's Got Too Much Free Time, I Guess...

President Obama is now pushing "high speed rail" as a solution to traffic jams. Remember when Jimmy Carter personally set the schedule for the White House tennis courts? Since when are traffic jams the problem of the President of the United States? Let's review the important topics on the President's agenda: Banking crisis. GM/Chrysler/UAW collapse. Unemployment. Pakistan. Iran. Iraq. Afghanistan. Somali piracy. Health care "reform." Cap-and-trade. Type of, and name for, Presidential puppy. Traffic jams.

Never mind that high speed rail only makes sense between cities, not within cities, so it really does nothing for traffic jams. What's worse is that TRAINS SUCK. In the United States, the distances to be traveled are just too far for trains, no matter how fast they go.

As it is, on many long-distance routes, it would be cheaper for the public to buy passengers a plane ticket than to run the trains (see below).

But, the real reason for building "high speed rail" is the opportunity to create highly-paid union jobs which in turn create substantial political contributions for Obama and the Democratic party, not to mention the massive contracts with industry who will climb on board (!) with more donations to make sure the decades-long building (read: spending) spree keeps going.

But then, who cares? What's another $500 Billion between friends?

From the Heritage Foundation:
1. Amtrak's costliest route is the Sunset Limited, which connects Los Angeles and Orlando in a grueling cross-country trip. In FY 2006, it served only 51,860 passengers and generated $6.5 mil­lion in revenue but ran at an annual operating loss of $27.2 million ($524.49 per passenger). In FY 2005, the route generated $10.8 million in revenue but lost $35.2 million (compared to $29.3 million in 2004), yielding a loss of $433 per passenger. Amtrak could save money by shutting down the line and buying each passen­ger an airline ticket.

2. The Silver Service (Silver Meteor and Silver Star) between New York and Florida lost $132.6 million in FY 2006 ($226.90 per pas­senger). In FY 2005, it lost $105.3 million (compared to $87.9 million in 2004), yielding a loss of $146 per passenger.

3. The Coast Starlight from Seattle to Los Angeles sold $31.8 million in tickets in FY 2006 but lost $43.9 million, or $132.25 per passenger, compared to a loss of $97.50 per passenger in FY 2005.

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