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President Obama makes his case for high speed rail before the nation's governors: We can't afford not to

Meeting with the nation's governors today at the White House, President Barack Obama noted that his plans for high speed rail have "garnered controversy" in some states (see Florida: Rick Scott) which he attributed in some cases to "partisan politics." (He didn't name any names.)

But he argued that spending on infrastructure projects "hasn’t traditionally been a partisan issue.  Lincoln laid the rails during the course of a civil war. Eisenhower built the Interstate Highway System.  Both parties have always believed that America should have the best of everything. We don’t have third-rate airports and third-rate bridges and third-rate highways."

 He said that new businesses are going to want the "fastest, most reliable way to move goods," whether its Chicago or Shanghai. And he wants them to stay in the United States.

"To those who say that we can’t afford to make investments in infrastructure, I say we can’t afford not to make investments in infrastructure," he said. "The notion that somehow we’d give up that leadership at this critical juncture in our history makes no sense."


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Hi speed rail is awaits of tax payer money. It will cost trillions $$ to buy land, lay track, build stations, etc Then, keep in mind all rail passenger service requires a lot of financial support yo operate, passenger fares do not cover operating costs.

Why should tax payees pay for this?

Garl Latham


I'll agree that our tax money should NOT be used to pay for ANY of this...as long as every mode is required to play by the same set of rules.

Therefore, we'll have no roadway network; no air traffic control system; no navigable waterways.

Instead of only possessing "third-rate" passenger trains, we'll take the next logical step and become a third-rate nation, overall! At least we won't be paying too many taxes.

Garl B. Latham
Dallas, Texas

P.S. I just can't wait for $5.00/gallon gasoline; can you?!


Tom Elmore

Typical highway lobby brainwashing, Tom.

Reality: It's all been done before. The federal government helped fund the railroads' initial construction in the 19th Century. The lines were turned over to the railroad business -- which has not only maintained them out of its profits since then, but, by 1943, had completely repaid all federal support. No other mode has ever (ever) done that. It's a demand that's never been made of trucking and airlines.

And passenger trains? It's only a mystery to Amtrak and most of today's goofy highway-lobby-money-sodden politicians. Bring the nation's First Class Mail back to the passenger trains (which made truly nationwide First Class mail possible in the first place)and you'll not only have self-supporting trains, but very likely a solvent and very effective Postal Service, as well. Efficient, reliable and economical long distance movement of First Class Mail and Express Frieght by U.S. passenger trains has never been equalled by other modes.

If Teddy Roosevelt were president today, he'd likely long since have broken up and reregulated today's arrogant and unwieldy Class 1, mega-monopoly railroads in favor of real competition. The people of the US, acting through their government, should make the Class 1s "an offer they can't refuse:" We'll repeat the success of the 19th Century -- We'll completely rebuild the nation's rail network with modern, optimal routes and terminals and then turn it back to a reinvented, competitive railroad system, current monopolies broken up into something nearer their smaller, antecedent lines, and with fair competition undergirded by common sense regulation, the railroads will once again handle not only the nation's frieght -- but also its passengers.

Oh -- and the mighty trucking industry will finally be brought to strict repayment of every dime it owes the taxpayers for the use of their roads.


Well, I kind of knew that this country would never or ever see High-Speed Trains, in the all possibility run by Amtrak.

We are not in Europe.

Therefore, do we have enough people other then the NE and CA that would use the Train.

Get real people. okay we will see $5 for Fuel.
There is not enough land to rebuild the Trains. Old Timer Stations are long gone.

What was Railway is now Bike Trails.
Get Real. it is only one direction.
Besides. the Bridges are not Heavy enough.

We do not have over and under passes.

It is just way too Expensive.

Actually the only wasteful spending in this county is Billion Dollars Football Stadiums.

It's too late rebuild Passenger Trains.

Freight Trains made it cleared.
Passenger Trains never did worked.

Only for a short period.

I read History Rain Fan Books.

Not enough People used the Trains or Appreciated.

Mr. President, I am for Obviously Passenger, however, after reading other people's points here. and what I said. it is a fact. not enough people, and too many small damn towns.

Too much farm land. no under or over passes.

We are not in Europe. We blew the plans when the Interstates were build. now is to pay for them as repairs are required.

We must too pay to build new Damn Airplanes before they fall apart out of the air.

Fact. People in this country, they love their Damn Airplanes and don't give a damn about Amtrak getting improve for Transportation.

Okay Football Fans. let us raise the Tax Payers Funds and pay $1 a gallon and Raise Billions of Dollars.

Fast Amtrak Trains will not be build Necessary from every city to every city.

Its too late. we had the Tracks. The Freight Train Companies. forced the Automakers to build. and Washington to build Interstates.

Now will we see $5 a Gallon for Fuel.


Rail is the most subsidized mode on a passenger-mile basis ...


The resulting federal subsidy per thousand passenger miles was as follows:
Inter-city passenger rail: $186
Urban transit: $118
Air travel: $ 6
Highways: -$2

We need to be clear about the definition of federal a "subsidy" for each mode of travel. A subsidy is not the same thing as "federal funding" altho many transit, rail, and high-speed rail advocates keep trying to twist the language so that it is. If an infrastructure project is funded by payments made by its users, there is no subsidy involved. A subsidy occurs when non-users are compelled to pay for such a project.

What pro-rail folks often do, incorrectly, is lump the local roads with the highways and cry, “See! Roads are subsidized too!”

Not only that, but money from the gas tax is siphoned off to subsidize transit. So one of the first reactions will be, “If the roads need a subsidy then let’s start by returning the money given to transit to the road fund.”

Garl Latham


If your actual goal is "to be clear," then why the attempt to use a definition for "subsidy" which is different than the one accepted by the federal government?

By the way, please be sure to let us all know when you figure out a way for highways to be accessed without the construction and maintenance of local roads.


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