Tagged: transit RSS

  • jimmy 12:55 am on February 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , qe2, the fed, transit   

    Everybody concerned about huge infrastructure costs (like tens of billions for high-speed rail) need to remember that we’re talking about a span of one or two decades for these projects. That comes out to “only” a few billion dollars a year (using Amtrak’s Northeast HSR ideas as an example: $117 billion over 30 years = $3.9 billion/year). Remember, the government dropped $300 billion basically overnight to bail out the banks, spent $50 billion on General Motors and are still in the process of propping up the stock market via $600 billion from the Federal Reserve. (Thanks in large part to the latter the two former bailouts have recouped much of their original costs. But still.)

    I’m not a huge fan of many of these bailouts, but I think it’s worth pointing out that while Amtrak is requesting $117 billion over a 30 year period, the Federal Reserve is spending almost that amount EVERY SIX WEEKS right now to try and create jobs. Meanwhile, the folks doing HSR in California say they’ll create almost as many jobs (half a million vs Ben’s 600,000) for less than a tenth the cost. You do the math.

    Actually, I’ll do the math. Bernanke’s “QE2″ (quantitative easing, round two) is costing the federal government $600 billion and has created 600,000 jobs over the course of ~6 months. The California High-Speed Rail project (the only project in America that’s actually happening…Amtrak’s Northeast idea is just that…an idea so far) is estimated to cost from $42 billion to $60 billion (depending on who you talk to and their opinions of the project), with the funding coming from the state budget, federal budget and private sources. A flyer on the project’s website (PDF link) states that it will create 600,000 construction jobs and 450,000 permanent jobs over 25 years. To even out the comparisons a bit I’ll simply look at those construction jobs and assume that they all happen without 5 years (I know it’s kinda random, but construction is supposed to start next year and end in 9 years, so it’s a fair assumption I think). QE2 is spending roughly $2 million/per year/per job created. CA HSR is projected to spend $20,000 per year/per job created. The time frame is slightly longer, but who knows how quickly HSR (or any infrastructure, for that matter) projects could start digging if we diverted even a tenth of the Fed’s money to some of these “shovel ready” infrastructure projects.

    Believe it or not, I’m open to debate about how HSR projects could be better fiscally managed, but I just thought I’d throw those comparisons out there for some context.

  • jimmy 7:42 am on May 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , transit   

    I love how a big argument against trains is that of the so-called “last mile problem,” meaning the problem of just being dumped somewhere with no way to get around (whereas when you drive, you’ve got your car with you, obviously). It’s a valid point, but what amuses (and saddens) me is that flying has THIS EXACT SAME PROBLEM and nobody has argued it for a century. They went about solving it. Duh.

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