Here are some interesting figures from yesterday's S.F. Examiner editorial titled "High-speed rail projects are about pork, not transit":
As it is, rail passengers in the U.S. already receive massive public subsidies. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the net government subsidy for airline passengers is one-tenth of a cent per passenger mile and a half-penny for motorists. That compares to 22 cents for Amtrak riders and 61 cents for public transit passengers. The Obama administration’s plans to pump billions more into high-speed rail will increase this already grossly distorted distribution of federal transportation funds.
And what a coincidence that three of the top contenders for high-speed rail funding just so happen to be located in the home districts of the president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. High-speed rail, it seems, is more about pork than transportation.
For the math-challenged among us, 22 cent Amtrak subsidey divided by .1 cent is a rail subsidy of 220 times that of air travel. As my imaginary grandpa might say. "Dats a lotta CO2, Anson".
The other question I have been mulling over is what kind of security our shiny high-speed rail system might have. I was in Spain the week after the terrorist train bombings in Madrid. I've been on the Shinkansen train in Japan. Our SF-LA line might not be a high profile target like the World Trade Center or the Pentagon, but it would certainly be more headline news than disrupting our pokey little Caltrain. Will these stations have x-ray machines? Will the TSA be out in force every day? Are the stations being designed with this in mind? Will the subsidy have to climb to 300 times that of air travel to make it safe? Do Quentin Kopp or Speaker Pelosi care?