High-Speed Rail Can't Replace Cars

President Obama set aside $8 billion for high-speed trains in the stimulus package, and Congress added another $1.2 billion. Yet many economists now say the costs of building a high-speed rail network far outstrip possible the benefits, especially when cars are becoming more energy-efficient. Harvard economist Edward Glaeser has studied the supposed environmental benefits, guided by the carbon-emission data used by environmental advocates. He pegs the annual environmental benefit for a 240-mile high-speed rail line that attracts 1.5 million riders at $4.2 million, a small return given the billions it would cost. Cato scholar Randal O'Toole notes that French and Japanese ride their bullet trains less than 400 miles a year on average, and estimates that an American network would take, at best, 3.5 percent of cars off the road.

High-Speed Rail Can't Replace Cars | Culture