Saturday, November 06, 2010

Off the Rails? One Can Hope!

Will John Kasich, who has already announced that high-speed rail in Ohio is dead, also manage to kill Cincinnati's Streetcar Named Expire?

Mayor Mallory says that the project is already funded except for "a few dollars," and that state money is "already committed."

We hope that the few dollars are enough to scuttle the whole thing, that the commitment can be uncommitted, and that thereby the citizenry can save billions. Otherwise we will spend outrageous sums to run people to the same destinations that buses serve presently, thinking that such an "investment" in "infrastructure" will somehow spur development in an area that has been in steady decline for two generations. This is magical superstition.

The estimable Robert Samuelson reminds us why. Rail hasn't paid for itself anywhere (two exceptions: Tokyo-Osaka and Paris-Lyon, in the whole world) in the last half century. It's 19th century technology that's inordinately expensive and inflexible. It's as green as pork. It's irrational romanticism with lots of zeroes.

CAUTION: Per Samuelson, figuring this issue out requires the ability to do fourth grade math.

1 comment:

Steve Ballmer said...

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