The Cost of a Hypothetical High Speed Rail Line

Economist Edward L. Glaeser crunches the numbers on a hypothetical high speed rail line between Dallas and Houston and finds the costs prohibitive.
August 6, 2009, 6am PDT | Nate Berg
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"I'm going to frame the discussion around an imaginary 240-mile link between Dallas and Houston, but the basic formula for direct costs and benefit is general:

Number of Riders times (Benefit per Rider minus Variable Costs per Rider) minus Fixed Costs.

I'm simplifying, but a formula needs to be simple if interested parties can seriously debate the numbers, and the only way that America is going to get to the right answer on public investments is if numbers trump rhetoric. I will plug illustrative figures into the formula, but not only am I well aware that every number here is debatable, I am hoping for just that debate."

He bases his figures on comparable costs from other rail lines from around the world, as well as estimates of interest rates on the bonds and loans required to fund the project.

Thanks to Reconnecting America

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Published on Tuesday, August 4, 2009 in The New York Times
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