More Arguing Over Viability of Hypothetical Dallas-Houston High-Speed Rail Link

Earlier this month, Harvard economic pro Ed Glaeser wrote a series of pieces for The New York Times's Economix blog in which he argued that a high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston wouldn't be economically viable. (Keep in mind, this was all hypothetical, since the Obama administration's "Vision of High-Speed Rail in America," proposed in April, doesn't actually include a link between Houston and Dallas, as evidenced by the Federal Railroad Administration's map. Dallas instead is part of the so-called South Central Corridor connecting Tulsa, Oklahoma City, the DFW, Austin, San Antonio and Little Rock.) On the blog The Infrastructurist, Yonah Freemark argues otherwise in a lengthy post. This excerpt to get you warmed up:

By populating [Glaeser's] model with a better set of assumptions, we hope to show how badly the economist missed the mark even on his handpicked example of an HSR link between Houston and Dallas. In reality, a well-designed high speed intercity rail project between the two largest cities in Lone Star State would likely produce a net economic benefit -- nothing at all like the white elephant Glaeser conjures up. In this more comprehensive model that takes into account trivialities like regional population growth and a reality-based route, the total annual benefits $840 million compared with construction and maintenance costs of $810 million. Which is to say, our numbers show that HSR pays for itself rather handily.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky