On Thursday the Obama administration announced awards for its high-speed rail program, started under last year’s stimulus bill, and $8 billion will be distributed among nine “major corridor” projects.
These corridors are meant to connect major cities in various regions. They won’t offer cross-country trips, and that makes sense–for longer trips, air travel will probably be more appealing. It’s not clear, however, that high-speed rail will catch on across a country whose infrastructure is heavily geared toward cars. What will people do once they step off the train in Los Angeles? Maybe some fearless entrepreneur will set up an electric car rental service at the station.
Of course, $8 billion scattered among all these projects won’t be enough to get the lines built. It’d be sad if the money to finish them doesn’t come through and twenty years from now we’ve got no more to show for the investment than some dead-end high speed rail tracks overgrown with weeds.