High Speed Rail – I respond

Every once in a while I like to tweak my audience a tad and elicit some response. I did it yesterday and got it. I commented on high speed rail below and some intrepid correspondents commented. I thought I would give my response here:

To Keith (Reality Check) First , you are concerned that when folks fly, they eat up a lot of time at the airport and don’t arrive “downtown”. My response is that taking LA to SF – the train would be four hours assuming it averages 100 MPH. Flight is 1 hour. So it appears that flying wins. In LA, the train station is downtown, but you would have to get there somehow…drive? In either case, you still need transportation at the other end. As for your comment about future congestion…well if we have a generous program of market based pricing and carpooling (see the next comment) would that congestion not be reduced so that visitors would be able to use their private vehicles easily. Your comment about the auto industry not reacting to the market place is spurious. The industry supplies what people want to drive. If they want cars that use less gas, that’s what they get (note the upsurge of Japanese automakers with gas friendly vehicles.) It makes no sense that a company supplies a produce people don’t want to buy. As for the CAFÉ standards you refer to (government requirements) they have practically put US automakers out of business – two of them needing government bailouts. They are forcing a natural progression in a time frame that was not economically feasible. An example – consider telecommunications. It was the removal of government regulations that caused our telephone costs to be so low (or virtually free) compared to the cost we experience in, say, the 1950s. Another example is the current gasoline prices. They are high because the government wants them high. By preventing the exploration for more oil in the US, but promoting it overseas, the price of oil (and thus gasoline) has been kept artificially high. For more on high speed rail – check this out

RTA and your comments – right on

And to Chris I say “Huh?



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2 Responses to High Speed Rail – I respond

  1. Reality Check says:

    Spurious, eh? Care to list any fuel economy that Detroit’s car industry has implemented, except in response to government requirements in, say, the past 40 years? Even when customers wanted vehicles with better mpg, for years Detroit fought any requirements right down the line and got stuck with a pile of SUVs they couldn’t sell (as I recall). Didn’t they suffer from their own lack of nimbleness and failure to respond when customers wanted different (smaller, better mpg) vehicles? That’s how Toyota, Nissan, et al got to be the size they are today, meeting a need Detroit couldn’t or wouldn’t meet.
    As for other safety equipment – seat belts, air bags, crash designs, daytime headlights, etc – all required by law. Remember the Pinto which burned easily, when rearended, for lack of a $10 part? My point is that the auto industry is interested in the bottom line, that’s it. An understandable position for them, but let’s not try to convince ourselves that Detroit didn’t need some major readjustment in attitude and practices in order to survive.
    If the train averages four hours from LA to SF, city center to city center, then the plane wins by 1 hourt. That time advantage shrinks some when you add in the extra two hours spent waiting in the security line for the nice TSA folks to approve you for departure. Add the time to get from either airport to the same city center destination the train goes to. You know better than I that in LA or SF traffic that could be awhile, don’t you think? Of course, LA and SF are paragons of carpooling…
    Givin’ as good as I get here, boss.

  2. JVH says:

    I disagree completely — if the auto industry was only interested in the bottom line, why did Toyota spend millions on the recent recalls, as have GM, Ford, Chrysler. Oh, and by the way, the best selling cars made by any automaker abd have been for years are light trucks — read that SUV’s. Most of Chrysler’s profit comes from them. My feeling is that if the government hadn’t stepped in Detroit may have failed — and they should have. Its diddling with the market that causes the problems. The government didn’t kill the Pinto or the Corvair, it was bad publicity and a few hot lawsuits.
    As for LA/SF my buddy down the hall prefers to drive. He says that he is usually ready to leave a half an hour before he leaves for the airport and factoring in all you commented on above, he can get to his final destination before the plane — of course he factors in some conversations with the CHP. That is, by the way, why I prefer cars, you are free to do whatever on your schedule, not someone else’s JVH

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