Friday, December 17, 2010

A preview of Saturday's column: Walker makes Wisconsin a new joke in CA.

Oh yeah. He did.

Wisconsin, Ohio and federal stimulus funds: California is happy to take your money - latimes.com

Remarkably, the governors of Wisconsin and Ohio seem to have taken us up on an offer so disadvantageous that the most shameless infomercial producer would hesitate to promote it. After being awarded a combined $1.2 billion in stimulus money to build rail projects — $810 million for a train from Milwaukee to Madison in Wisconsin and $385 million for a rail line linking Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland in Ohio — the governors turned it down. Instead, it will be distributed to train projects in 13 other states, with California being the biggest single beneficiary.

Why would they do such a thing? Because it would cost taxpayer money to operate the rail lines after they're built. Scott Walker, Republican governor-elect of Wisconsin, fretted that his state's train would cost $7.5 million a year to operate. As train supporters pointed out to the New York Times, this is sort of like turning down a free car because you don't want to have to pay for gasoline and insurance. Not only did Walker and Ohio Gov.-elect John Kasich, also a Republican, ignore the construction jobs the projects would have created, but they ignored the positive impact on their states' economies, freeways and environment that the trains would have brought to future generations.

5 comments:

Kevin Scheunemann said...

Running empty trains is good for environment?

And another thing, remember all the environmental fuss that was made over reconstruction of zoo interchange?...but when it came to the train, it was full speed ahead, the environmental impact of laying the track and constructing the stations be damned.

The choo choo train is 19th century technology pretending to be relevant in the 21st Century.

Is that what the progressive movement is all about these days, embracing outdated technology at any cost?

Bucky Blue said...

That's the dumbest comment I've read in quite some time. High-Speed Rail is 21st century because it moves masses of people, quickly, at a relatively low level of energy consumption. There's not a better way to do it. Despite improvements to car engines in other parts of the world, we rely on 18th century technology to 'drive' most of our transportation, which is idiotic. Unless you know how to beam people around the country, a la Star Trek, HSR is really the best of technologies.

videoseltuttle said...

Great question Kevin, but let me ask you this.... how high does the cost of a barrel of crude oil have to get before the choo-choo trains fill up with people who can no longer afford to drive an automobile? 21st century train tech is anything but choo-choo. Even in metropolitan cities that rely on older mass transit tech, it's remains a vital low cost solution for the masses to move on. Your environmental point of empty trains is well taken and I have to agree, but the majority of single occupant automobiles stuck at idle in the zoo interchange rush hour aren't the equivalent of planting trees and gardening either.

John Jost said...

"The choo choo train is 19th century technology pretending to be relevant in the 21st Century."?

Operating speed of high-speed choo-choos in the European Union: 160 mph. In China, on traditional rails, 220 mph, and on magnetic levitation rails, 268 mph. Looks like it's the 65-mph semi that is a 20th-century technology pretending to be relevant in the 21st.

Recent words from the U.S. Transportation Secretary: "We face a complex set of challenges in the 21st century – building a robust, green economy, gaining energy independence, reversing global climate change, and fostering more livable, connected communities. These new challenges require creative new transportation solutions. A combination of express and regional high-speed corridors, evolving from upgraded, reliable intercity passenger rail service, has proven effective in addressing many of these challenges around the world and in selected U.S. corridors."

Kevin Scheunemann said...

John,

We are not talking high speed European trains here. We are talking clunker rail line trains, maybe getting to 70 MPH.

So let's be honest about what this Milwaukee to Madison train really is. If any of you think this was "high speed" rail, you need to get a reality check.

I agree the European train model is more useful than the Doyle choo choo...however, even the European train model has massive economic costs.

Given the economic basket case that Europe is today, that is not a path we want to emulate.

Either way, the WI choo choo is dead, and we are all better off for it. (We will not have to subsidize operating costs at $10 mil+ per year, more money for education, which should get you all excited.)