HSR Funds Better Spent on Local Transit, Says Editorial

The St. Louis Post Dispatch laments the $1.1 billion the St.Louis to Chicago corridor received for high speed rail, wishing it had gone to worthier projects such as subsidizing local public transit.
February 2, 2010, 1pm PST | Irvin Dawid
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Calling it a "Bridge to the 19th Century", the editors think the downpayment for the corridor to be a poor investment that will continually seek subsidies.

"...there are far better, fairer and faster ways to stimulate the economy than spending $8 billion on the relatively affluent 1 percent of Americans who ride trains. Public transit immediately comes to mind. Missouri got (only) $31 million to upgrade St. Louis-to-Kansas City service.

Meanwhile, the Metro transit service in St. Louis gets zero in state tax subsidies."

While the $1.1 billion was not intended to make the corridor truly high speed, it was meant to make it competitive with auto travel.

From White House Fact Sheet: High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program: Chicago - St. Louis - Kansas City (pdf) :
"....improvements to this corridor will be made that allow passenger rail service from Chicago to St. Louis to operate at speeds of up to 110 mph...decreas(ing) travel time to approximately 4 hours, allowing customers to reach their destination 30 percent faster compared to current rail service, and 10 percent faster than driving."

Other local editorials from cities in HSR award-winning states saw the grants differently.

From SF Chronicle: U.S. gets on board:
California's 2.25 billion HSR-ARRA grant "is an example of how stimulus money should be spent: It will create good-paying jobs while adding a practical and enduring asset to the nation's infrastructure. Too much stimulus money to date has been spent on pork-barrel extravagancies or backfilling state dollars to sustain programs."


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Published on Friday, January 29, 2010 in St.Louis Post-Dispatch
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