Will a High Speed Train Boost our Economy?

The success of the High Speed Train project will really depend on the willingness of Americans to become less car oriented and embrace public transportation

High Speed Train Dilemma

High Speed Train Dilemma

Contrary to my friend and publisher Dr. Ramakers who likes the high speed train projects, I am a true-blooded American with a deep love for the freedom of the automobile, that may outrank practicality of transportation, but is it just me or am I seeing some really stupid stuff going on that is costing us billions of dollars.  I couldn’t help but watch with a dropped jaw the President announcing in Florida this week the need for a high speed train from Tampa to Orlando.  Think about this for a minute, Tampa to Orlando?  I truly don’t get this one.  Is this going to increase tourism in Florida?  Will this provide much needed jobs now?  Will there be enough business for the project to sustain itself financially or will people still prefer to take their cars?

I think the answer to all the above questions would be a simple, NO.  I don’t see this train having any increase on tourism in the state.  As far as producing jobs, construction will not end until 2014 and 2017, so much for what we need now.  How many people will flock to this wonder train to nowhere and fork out whatever the cost will be to ride it?  I don’t see it as a money maker, I think it will become another unfunded mandate on the taxpayers of this state.

Our elected officials are saying they hope for a $2.5 billion funding to come through although there are those who think it will be less, somewhere around $1.8 or so.  I don’t think anyone has thought this thing through completely.  I wonder what $2.5 billion could do for the economy of the state and reducing unemployment if it were loaned to small businesses?  Just a thought.

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  1. publisher

    Nick, after 30 years on American shores I do understand and can appreciate the love for automobiles. However automobiles as an employment industry will be dying a slow death in our society until we can figure out how to let them all run independently on computer controlled grids, especially where it concerns urban areas. Much of mid distance continental travel will be comfortable high speed trains, while coast to coast and transatlantic/transpacific travel obviously will be aircraft. It's the logical progression. With you I originally questioned the Tampa-Orlando choice as poorly thought thru, but it isn't. It connects two of Florida's 3 real international airports, both destinations have considerable tourism attractions and what's most important; the project is about the perfect size to get your feet wet in this technology and learn about market acceptance and feasibility. I'm still very much in favor, although I question the Whitehouse on the creation of 20,000 jobs. Maybe gross, but not net, meaning with a lot of job creation in the train corridor, there will be a lot of job-loss in the highway corridor. And as far as your question of spreading $2 billion among small businesses would create jobs, I would be very reluctant. Assuming 20,000 small business in Florida (obviously there are a lot more) each would get only $100,000. Not a lot of growth security to start hiring again I think. No, I strongly believe in projects like the high speed train, although I do have reservations about utilizing proper experience and the Whitehouse projected exuberance about job expectations.

  2. tommylee

    This is my 400th comment here and I have to agree with the publisher on his take. I would like to add that historically ignorance has done a lot of harm and wasted resources and thus money. If the Whitehouse thinks it is wise to rely only on US expertise with a project like this, I can only point to the Japanese and their 1970 – 2000 dominance growth in technology, car manufacturing and other areas. They where wise. “Learn from the best and see what you can improve on it over time.”

    I can only hope that the same goes for a technology like the high speed train development and operation that the US government hires the technical knowledge from those that have gone through the “child's diseases”. Re-inventing the wheel is in this day and age a foolish and costly approach.

  3. publisher

    400 comments. Wow. Your comment about how the Japanese became techno giants holds ground as I remember coming to the States in 1979 for a Dutch Real Estate company. We bought into several joint ventures with US developers and in various States from east to westcoast and learned from the best for a couple of years and then applied that knowledge to spread our own wings into the US real estate marketplace. Worked like a champ. Hopefully that's how the high speed train projects are going to be approached.

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