High Speed Rail: Another Obama Boondoggle

We at the Rio Grande Foundation have been harshly critical of both the Albuquerque Streetcar and the Rail Runner. It is not because we have an irrational hatred for trains, rather it is the burdens these projects place on taxpayers. After all, while roads and airlines are largely self-sufficient (and I’d be happy to see government cut them free to become even more-so) trains are incredibly expensive.
President Obama’s plan to spend at least $5 billion to subsidize a high-speed rail network is the latest example of a politician who has fallen in love with the lure of taxpayer-subsidies for passenger rail. Like the RailRunner (but on a larger and more expensive scale because it is supposed to operate at higher speeds) Obama’s plan will prove to be a wasteful and costly boondoggle.
Obama’s high-speed rail plan is actually nothing new. In fact, back in 2001 when I worked for the National Taxpayers Union, I critiqued a plan put forth by then-Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, (a Republican) Don Young to spend $71 billion to build a nationwide high speed rail network.
Thankfully, Obama’s plan is scaled back relative to Young’s, but the massive $787 billion “stimulus” passed earlier this year actually put the plan into motion.