Cato Institute says "No" to KC light rail plan
Japan’s bullet trains were a feather in that country’s technological
cap, but they sent the formerly profitable Japanese National Railways
(JNR) into virtual bankruptcy. The government was forced to absorb $200 billion
in high-speed debt. Meanwhile, far from attracting people out of their
cars, high-speed rail accelerated the growth in driving as JNR raised
fares to cope with its losses.
Europe’s record with high-speed rail hasn’t been much better. Though
nations in the European Union spend an estimated $100 billion per year
subsidizing intercity rail, rail has slowly but steadily lost market
share since Italy opened the continent’s first high-speed line in 1978.
Today, less than 6 percent of passenger travel goes by rail.
We car-crazy Americans drive for 85 percent of our travel. Europeans
drive for 79 percent. Spending several hundred billion dollars to get,
at best, 5 or 6 percent of people out of their cars is not worthwhile.
The real impact of high-speed rail is that it replaces private air
service with heavily subsidized rail service.