Harry Reid kills MagLev between Vegas and SoCal
I should point out up front that I personally am a vocal proponent of high speed trains as a cornerstone of domestic travel and transportation. Being born and raised in the Netherlands I have witnessed the birth and advance of high speed trains intimately and can vouch for its value, ease,comfort, safety, punctuality and economic sustainability, let alone its environmentally friendly use and the easing it creates for metro road traffic congestion.
Even though there is a distinct cultural transportation difference between Western Europe and North America, essentially reflected in preferred modes of transportation, an efficient railroad system saves money, increases productivity and saves the environment. A strategic Dash Train (Sprint) circuit between the quadrouple-cities of Amsterdam – Utrecht – Rotterdam and the Hague in the Netherlands beats any attempt of sensible road travel in speed, cost and environmental impact.
But Americans love their cars and its convenience and will take them to the grocery store 200 yards away to get a bottle of wine. They also became enamored with airplanes for longer distances in the early 1970s when air travel became affordable to the masses with the introduction of wide bodies. And now, more than 30 years after Europe, Japan and even China have adopted the long term vision that high speed rail is an important contribution to all forms of transportation, the US is still battling its apparent functionality.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood last week delivered a stern rebuke to aviation experts and executives who criticized the Obama administration’s interest and investments in high-speed rail.
“Let me give you a little political advice: Do not be against high-speed rail,” LaHood “threatened” the audience attending the annual FAA Forecast Conference in Washington. “The administration wants it. Americans want it. It is coming. We are going to be in the high-speed rail business,” were his exact words.
The U.S. will develop high-speed rail the same way the country developed the Eisenhower interstate highway network, LaHood said, adding that it should not be seen as bad news for aviation.
“People are still going to fly,” he said. “But we need alternatives and options. People want high-speed rail, so get with the program.”
LaHood’s comments followed an FAA conference panel about on-time airline operations that featured several aviation experts attacking the Obama administration’s financial commitment — $8 billion, so far — to develop fast passenger train service.
A very shortsighted, self-serving remark from an “airline lobbying politically conservative think tank” questioned if it made sense to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to create a new mode of travel that competes with a self-supportive one, using the argument that supposedly nowhere in the world rail recovers capital costs, a remark that is at the very least deceptive and at best a lie.
In further discussions however another side of the coin became visible when aviation officials claimed that because there’s precious little public funding available, this should be targeted for important aviation programs like NextGen air traffic control and airport operations, immediately rebuking its own previous statement of being self supportive.
American Airlines CEO Gerard Arpey came out by saying that, it’s the government’s responsibility to keep today’s system vibrant and pay for the costly NextGen air traffic control system, which relies on GPS technology.
Aviation officials also claimed their industry has borne the costs of the national campaign against terrorism more than other business segments. The added security measures, they said, have added expense to air transportation, making it a more costly and less desirable mode of travel. “Why airlines are singled out to bear the fight against terrorism escapes me,” Arpey said. “I would argue that airlines should not pay for national defense.”
With 800 billion in defense budgets I would consider this remark poppycock or ignorance, the choice is up to Arpey. Sure all the Homeland Security issues around air travel have made this mode of transportation inconvenient for consumers and it is not easy for airlines’ operations, but to claim that the Airlines are paying for national defense would be a slap in the face of the taxpayer, in my opinion.
Apparently this was also the opinion of James Crites, executive vice president of operations for Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, who quickly pointed out that the airline industry has done a bad job selling Next Gen technology.
“We have to bring back the value of our product”, he said “and high-speed rail could actually boost aviation by improving overall transportation in the U.S. “I don’t see it as competition,” he said. “I see it as a complementary mode.”
And that is exactly the strategic approach for high speed rail versus airline transportation.
A Brookings Institute report (http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2009/1008_air_travel_tomer_puentes.aspx), “Expect Delays: An Analysis of Air Travel Trends in the United States,” released last October said the U.S. should look at starting high speed rail links between major metro centers that are 200 and 500 miles apart, specifically those now served by congested air hubs.
“Many of these aviation corridors offer an excellent customer base to quickly create significant ridership and begin making returns on investment as soon as possible,” the Brookings report said. “At distances of less than 400 miles, high-speed rail can meet or beat air travel times while decongesting high systems and improving travel convenience.”
Nevada senator pulls funding for rail project
And then….almost at the same time that secretary LaHood tells the airline executives to get with the program, Democratic top idiot Harry Reid plays politics with the high speed rail program by redirecting $45 million in funding for a proposed magnetic-levitation rail line that its planners say would connect Southern California to Las Vegas in just 80 minutes, to road improvements near Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport.
Reid defended his narrow minded decision to redirect federal funds to “a transportation project in southern Nevada that will actually create jobs right away.”
Politicians with band-aids as solutions, it seems Washington DC has its share of them. If I would have been in charge of any Las Vegas Hotel Group I would have pulled out all stops to get that $45 million back in the hands of the developers. It would be a lifesaver for Sin City in the Desert