For much of the last week we've been consumed with the news coming out of the Bay Area, from the Menlo Park Town Hall to the Atherton v. CHSRA decision (which both occurred on Wednesday, making that one of the more HSR-heavy days I've had lately). But I wanted to pause for a moment to bring readers' attention to some of the excellent takedowns of the HSR denial we've been seeing in the Washington Post and the New York Times lately, particularly two articles that I'd intended to write about but got sidetracked with the Great Peninsula Debate.
- Over at the Infrastructurist Yonah Freemark offered a thorough, numbers-based refutation of Ed Glaeser's four-part exercise in HSR denial in the NYT's Economix Blog. Freemark's numbers-based assessment shows, as he writes, "In this more comprehensive model that takes into account trivialities like regional population growth and a reality-based route, the annual benefits total $840 million compared with construction and maintenance costs of $810 million. Which is to say, our numbers show that HSR pays for itself rather handily. And this would be early in the lifecycle of the system, with those benefits likely to grow in future decades."
As one of the core problems with Glaeser's faulty analysis was his decision to examine a hypothetical HSR line rather than an actual one, Freemark looks at the actual Texas T-Bone plan. By examining the actual context in which it would be built, he shows how HSR is going to provide benefits far outweighing the costs. But since the US economics field, from academia to the pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post, is dominated by short-term and flawed concepts of costs and benefits. Freemark's full post is well worth the read.
- The St. Louis Urban Workshop has a great "re-mix" of Robert Samuelson's ridiculous screed, showing how the real transportation boondoggle are the interstate highways that continue to get gobs of federal funding despite bringing diminishing value to the country.