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High-speed rail going nowhere fast

I'm sorry, but I just can't get excited about all the sudden chatter about high-speed rail. Not that I don't think it's a good idea -- actually, I think it's a great idea -- but the Tonka Toy approach being bandied about represents much less than a half-a-loaf. And a soggy one, at that.

I covered high-speed rail some 25 years ago when I covered transportation for the Orlando Sentinel. Even went to France on assignment to, among other things, travel their high-speed system. Their TGV tops out at more than 300 miles per hour and routinely hits 200. Acceleration was akin to an airplane taking off.

We're not talking anywhere close to 200 mph here, more like 110. I'm sorry, but the prospect of getting to Albany in three-and-a-half-hours doesn't send me rushing out the door in search of my local Amtrak station. 

Moreover, we're talking about building east to Albany, not north to Toronto, which makes a lot more sense for WNY. After all, Toronto is a lot more vibrant than the carcass economies that line the Thruway corridor. Utica, full speed ahead? I think not.

The talk is accomplishing something over the next 20 years, which ..... is ..... a ......long ....time. This year's college grads will be in in their 40s -- and most likely living in North Carolina -- by the time Mission Accomplished would be declared.

And we're talking use of federal money that (1) will cover only a portion of the cost and (2) will be fought over by various states like raw meat at a convention of wolves.

For high-speed rail to make a real difference, it needs to link WNY with Toronto, in addition to Albany and NYC. It needs to be high speed -- 110 mph doesn't cut it. It needs to happen sooner than later.

And to make any of the above happen, state government would need to belly up to the bar with billions of dollars, but that won't happen so long as Albany continues to shower money on the usual suspects. Nope, we're spending those billions on bloated bureaucracies, retired government employees and corporate welfare.

If you insist on learning more, Wikipedia has this overview of high-speed rail, the Washington Post has this takeout of the issue and the Buffalo Pundit has two video interviews with Sam Hoyt. Meanwhile, Buffalo Rising has this on the prospect of an express train between Buffalo and Niagara Falls.


Economic Development | State government
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