Saturday, September 25, 2010

Steve Hiniker, Smart Growth Advocate, Proves Rail Is A Bargain

Nice op-ed by the executive director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.

He proves that the high-speed train is a good investment.

By the way, you should join that organization, as I have.

It's a good investment.

Site and forms, here.


Anonymous said...

Steve Hinicker? More like Dick Cheney, amarite?

"I'm clearly the front-runner here," he says, calling Hiniker the "Dick Cheney" for one of his primary opponents

James Rowen said...

I don't know what this name-calling accomplishes. We're talking about issues here.

Anonymous said...

His math is very faulty. He ignores the cost of parking and transportation upon arrival. He also ignores that the math gets really ugly when more than one passenger is involved. Multiple passengers in a car wins hands-down over the train. Also, drivers who already own a car are not going to view the drive as costing them $39 each way -- they already own the car, so they are simply going to look at the cost of gas.

The only HSR route that makes obvious economic sense is between Milwaukee and Chicago.

If Milwaukee-Madison gets built first, then any decisions on building a Milwaukee-Chicago line are going to be based on how well the Milwaukee-Madison line is doing. If it turns out to be a fiscal failure -- requiring large public subsidies, then building a Milwaukee-Chicago line is going to be politically impossible.

Decisions like this need to be based on factual analysis of consumer behavior, not simply out of a desire to have the train built.

Joshua Skolnick said...

@Anonymous, your math is faulty. According to IRS reimbursement, which factors not just the cost of gas, but wear and tear, depreciation, and other vehicle expenses, the cost of driving is 50 cents a mile. It is 74 miles from Monona Terrace, in Madison, near where the Madison HSR station is proposed, to the Amtrak station in downtown milwaukee, so based on IRS reimbursements, the cost to drive is $37.00 one way, which compares favorably with rail. And in the real world, cars average 1.4 passengers. Multiple car passengers are the exception, not the rule. And, additionally, the $39 one way is the worst case scenario for the rail fare. It will likely be lower.

And, Anonymous does not factor in the fact that car and truck travel is far more weather sensitive than rail. Snow, which we have plenty of around here, can quickly render the roads into pure gridlock, while trains roll on unaffected. Heck, in the 1930s (!) the Milwaukee Road ran its Hiawatha steam locomotives at 110 mph in the middle of a snowstorm! Try that with your car.