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Old 02-04-2010, 01:33 PM
 
Location: The Greatest city on Earth: City of Atlanta Proper
8,020 posts, read 12,549,229 times
Reputation: 5944

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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobKovacs View Post
I'll even offer to skip any notion of ROI, profitability, etc- just explain to me why we're building all of this high-speed rail all of a sudden. We all knw it won't make money, but maybe if it cures cancer or something, I'll see the benefit.
Um, I don't know what "all of a sudden" means to you, but the federal government has been working on building a high speed rail network since 1991. The first bill that started us on the path to where we are today was the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). It had bipartisan support in the House and Senate, and was signed into law by Pappy Bush. Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush added to the original plans, and President Obama just happens to be willing to start funding what has already be worked on for nearly 20 years.

Daily Kos: High-Speed Hypocrisy: Obama attacked for GOP-backed rail plan
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Old 02-04-2010, 01:47 PM
 
51,858 posts, read 47,690,997 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waronxmas View Post
Here's the thing: The government is not a business nor should it be ran like one. In an ideal world, the government should spend tax money to build things for our benefit. Why on earth should the government not spend tax dollars and save it up?

Aside from that, their is a clear value in public works projects: To serve the public.

In the past we spent billions of dollars on to build huge projects without the expectation they'd make money:

-The Manhattan Project
-World War II
-The Space Program
-The interstate highways
-Airports
-The building of Georgia's "lakes": Georgia has no natural lakes and this city wouldn't be here if were for the government spending money

In fact, using your logic we should not have built airports because hardly anyone used airplanes for travel in the beginning.

There are things more important than just getting our money back when it comes to building government projects as well. In most cases, that money needs to be spent so that we can raise or maintain our strategic economic or defense status.

Quote:
In the case of HSR, I do not disagree with you that the amount of people who will use this network will be significant at first. Unlike NYC and DC, we don't have people traveling in huge numbers to Atlanta for daily work and the current modes of transportation suit them fine. The most it will probably be used for is tourism. However, given a long enough time line, people will begin to commute to Atlanta via rail from Birmingham, Chattanooga, Greenville, or Memphis since it evolves less hassle than flying or driving.

There is also the fact that the world is running out of oil. It's doubtful that all oil will be gone in our life times, but it's pretty well agreed that within the next 50 years the demand will be greater than the supply. While it is theoretically possible to switch cars and planes over to other forms of fuel, we already have the technology and knowledge to run trains on electric. Having a well connected train network in place before the problems begin a generation or two from now will be to the strategic benefit of America.
All are good reasons why high speed rail should be used here. There is alot of work that needs to be done. Atlanta metro has been very behind when it comes to mass transit. When it was coming out in the 1970's, only 2 counties would support it, Fulton and DeKalb. There were people making fun of it, calling it by this ugly acronym: Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta. Today Cobb and Gwinnett County are still saying NO. The way I see it, things need to get done. If Atlanta is suppose to be a world-class city, then why not have ALL of trappings of a world-class city? If we can have the Olympics(which I think were not done right), why not improve mass transit?
While on the subject of mass transit, not only must a decent metropolitan rail be implemented, an interurban high speed rail should be implemented as well.
Metropolitan Atlanta came marginally close in the early 2000's with Roy Barnes. What happened? Mass transit took a back seat to a very stupid issue, the Confederate flag. All because Barnes changed the state flag, he got voted out and Perdue replaced him. I did not want Sonny Perdue as governor. I was too young to vote when he because the governor(I was 16 in 2002) and when I got a chance to vote in the governor election in 2006, I voted AGAINST Perdue. I voted for someone else. Still, Perdue won the election. He pretty much said he would not fund MARTA or any mass transit.

Money gets spent on other things. Why not spend it on mass transit. Some people say it won't get used at first. Well, someone has to use it.
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Old 02-04-2010, 01:54 PM
 
Location: Mableton, GA USA (NW Atlanta suburb, 4 miles OTP)
11,319 posts, read 22,983,750 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnatl View Post
I personally am not anti-car. My line of thinking is that when are these vaunted highways going to turn a profit? The answer is never, unless we toll everything.
The US interstate system was built for national defense, not as a profitable form of civilian transportation.

Is that the highway system you're talking about?
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Old 02-04-2010, 02:13 PM
 
9,124 posts, read 33,295,188 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waronxmas View Post
Um, I don't know what "all of a sudden" means to you, but the federal government has been working on building a high speed rail network since 1991.
Interesting then, that they've been studying it for close to 20 years, yet the only time it starts to get funding is when the government is trying to "create jobs" in a down economy.......
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Old 02-04-2010, 02:15 PM
 
248 posts, read 569,116 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcsteiner View Post
The US interstate system was built for national defense, not as a profitable form of civilian transportation.

Is that the highway system you're talking about?
Excellent point, rcsteiner -- I'm glad you brought this up. We should be concerned about clogging up the interstates with our passenger cars and preventing military personnel from getting where they need to go quickly and efficiently, as per the original plan for the interstate system.

Building an expansive network of intercity, high-speed rail would go a long way towards alleviating traffic on this highway system and leaving it less congested for the purpose of military and emergency mobility. Let's get started.
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Old 02-04-2010, 02:15 PM
 
51,858 posts, read 47,690,997 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcsteiner View Post
The US interstate system was built for national defense, not as a profitable form of civilian transportation.

Is that the highway system you're talking about?
That is a good point you brought up. I often forget(as well as many others) that the current highway system was built for national defense, to transport tanks. It was used for automobiles at first.

The US Highway system was used for cars. I still believe it would be a good idea to tap into all forms of transportation, such as high speed rail, monorail,etc.
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Old 02-04-2010, 02:25 PM
 
Location: The Greatest city on Earth: City of Atlanta Proper
8,020 posts, read 12,549,229 times
Reputation: 5944
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobKovacs View Post
Interesting then, that they've been studying it for close to 20 years, yet the only time it starts to get funding is when the government is trying to "create jobs" in a down economy.......
I think that's a really morose kind of way of thinking about it. For one, it was because of that act that ACELA was built. Also, why is it a bad thing that government takes direct steps to create jobs. Once the approved projects get underway, there will be thousands of jobs created that wouldn't have been if it was left up to the free market.
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Old 02-04-2010, 03:45 PM
 
719 posts, read 1,503,602 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neil0311 View Post
When you're discussing spending tens of BILLIONs of dollars, all of it borrowed, so-called "notions as ROI, etc" are very useful and relevant. What kind of responsible business spends billions of leveraged dollars on a project with no clear value or ROI? Our government should be treating its capital projects with the same due dilligence. Many of you seem content to just let the government spend billions of borrowed dollars on a project without the slightest disclosure or projections of the need for the project or the cost to care and feed the infrastructure down the road.

Your comparison to cultural institution is ridiculous and is apples/oranges. The multiplier effect or economic impact to a city of infrastructure is hard to estimate, but one thing you can estimate is how many people a year will come to Turner Field. You can make assumptions of the benefit and economic impact. There is also minimal cost to the taxpayer for the Braves being located in Atlanta. The same information and assumptions cannot be made about building a muti-billion dollar high speed rail line. How many riders/year? What will the revenue be per year? Operating and capital costs/year?
Looks like we disagree on several levels. First, your statement "all of it borrowed" seems to be based on a misconception. Of course public works money is borrowed. By definition, it is an investment in a future benefit. When I put my money into a rainy-day fund, for ex., I am "borrowing" that money, borrowing it from myself. That is a pretty good metaphor for much of what is borrowed in funding towards public projects. As a public, we borrow from ourselves to build something over time that is worthwhile.

You also seem to imply ("many of you seem content") I want to just give the government carte blanche to spend away without the slightest accountability. But that's not what I said. Nothing in what I said necessarily has to mean government bureaucrats can be given blank checks to spend the public's tax dollars without accountability.

As to my comparison with cultural institutions, you seem to have missed my point. You apparently want to argue that since it's "hard to estimate" the benefits of these institutions that therefore we shouldn't try. I disagree. I think we can measure certain things about it, just not things that can easily be crammed onto a spreadsheet.

See, there is a level of benefit that is enjoyed by the public, is appreciated over time, and cannot be easily measured in simple dollars and cents. That's the level that does to some extent come into play when discussing infrastructure projects like trains. No, not exactly the same thing as a museum, but there's an overlap as evidenced by the fondness we have for our old train stations.
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Old 02-04-2010, 03:47 PM
 
719 posts, read 1,503,602 times
Reputation: 220
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobKovacs View Post
...yet the only time it starts to get funding is when the government is trying to "create jobs" in a down economy.......
You say that as if it's a bad thing.
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Old 02-04-2010, 03:52 PM
 
9,124 posts, read 33,295,188 times
Reputation: 3565
Quote:
Originally Posted by waronxmas View Post
I think that's a really morose kind of way of thinking about it. For one, it was because of that act that ACELA was built. Also, why is it a bad thing that government takes direct steps to create jobs. Once the approved projects get underway, there will be thousands of jobs created that wouldn't have been if it was left up to the free market.
There's nothing wrong with job creation- let's just create jobs that will result in something useful- not a rail system that will be grossly underutilized for the next century. ACELA's not exactly a shining example to use, since it uses existing infrastructure and still doesn't get utilized to its fullest potential- if it was such a stellar system, there would be far more trains every day on the NEC.

In the case of this new rail system, we're talking about billions for new railways, just to provide temporary positions to folks. In the end we'll end up with an underutilized rail system that will continue to bleed money from the fed every year for decades to come as they continue to subsidize its operation and maintenance. Why not just train (no pun intended) all these folks to weatherize houses, or put them to work building giant windmills or something, where at least we'd see some real, tangible benefit from the efforts- and in a much shorter time frame.
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