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Missouri lawmakers deal setback to high-speed rail plan

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | 11:05 a.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — A Missouri House committee has dealt a setback to Gov. Jay Nixon's quest for $1 billion in federal high-speed rail money.

The House Budget Committee on Wednesday rejected an attempt to insert the rail money into a state budget bill. That comes just two weeks after Nixon held a news conference to announce Missouri was applying for $1 billion of the $2.4 billion of federal rail money that Florida decided not to use.

Republican lawmakers expressed concern that even if Missouri were to get the federal money, it would fund only design and land acquisition for a new route between St. Louis and Kansas City — not construction or operation costs.

Nixon's administration said Wednesday that it will continue with the application for the rail money.


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Comments

Nelson Richter April 13, 2011 | 12:18 p.m.

How shorted sighted are these people? Block anything that make a Democrat look good-so glad that the GOP is so focused on jobs, the economy and what might be good for Missouri.

(Report Comment)
Mike Rotch April 13, 2011 | 1:35 p.m.
This comment has been removed.
Paul Allaire April 13, 2011 | 6:21 p.m.

I'm speechless.

(Report Comment)
Lloyd Thomas April 14, 2011 | 11:02 a.m.

Party politics before common sense and everyone knows cars are going to be the preferred transport long in to the next century; as we have cheap and inexhaustible supplies of petroleum.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield April 14, 2011 | 11:49 a.m.

And when petro supplies run out, we'll probably have transitioned to fuel cells or some other means of powering our vehicles. Most people are unwilling to give up the freedom that comes with owning a vehicle.

If you don't believe me, go stand by a major intersection during rush hour and count the number of vehicles with more than one adult inside. The Hickman student lot is as packed as ever, and the driveways in front of the elementary schools are still full of idling cars as parents wait in the comfort of AC to pick up their kids.

Most people are simply willing to pay the premium of increasing gas prices because it's far outweighed by the ability to go directly where they want to and exactly when they want to.

(Report Comment)
fred smith April 14, 2011 | 12:13 p.m.

And how much will I the tax payer have to pay in taxes to subsidize this ridicules project? For how long will I and my children have to pay? Because we know the ridership will NOT pay for operations, maintenance and management especially once the unions get their noses under the tent.
Of course if the state money is there we’d have to spend it on something even if we didn’t get the federal money. No, this time the house budget committee deserves a round of applause.

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote April 14, 2011 | 12:43 p.m.

@Fred,

State and Federal government spend a considerable amount of money for transportation. The vast majority of which fund automobile infrastructure. Their funding comes from tax payers. Autos are not self funded. Railroads are a very efficient means of transportation as compared to automobiles from an energy use perspective. Roughly 2700 BTU per passenger mile for trains compared to 3500 BTU per passenger mile for cars (approximately 20% more efficient to ride the train). Why should we, the tax payers, keep subsidizing the least fuel efficient mode of transportation, at the expense of more efficient ones? Or why not apply your same metric as to whether the state should receive federal highway dollars?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 14, 2011 | 12:46 p.m.

All the more reason to get rid of the federal gas tax and the federal highway programs. Let states increase their gas taxes and pay for roads in their states instead of hoping their legislators in Washington D.C. can get most of those funds back from where they were extracted.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield April 14, 2011 | 1:20 p.m.

"State and Federal government spend a considerable amount of money for transportation. The vast majority of which fund automobile infrastructure."

And they will continue to do so as long as most people -- taxpayers or not -- show a clear preference for traveling by automobile. Even in Columbia, a council candidate would be laughed out of the race if he or she proposed gutting the roads budget and shifting it all to buses and sidewalks.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 14, 2011 | 1:26 p.m.

Christopher Foote wrote:

"Roughly 2700 BTU per passenger mile for trains compared to 3500 BTU per passenger mile for cars (approximately 20% more efficient to ride the train)."

Are you sure you didn't mean 270 BTU/passenger-mile for the train? Or does that number take into account low ridership?

DK

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire April 14, 2011 | 1:40 p.m.

"Even in Columbia, a council candidate would be laughed out of the race if he or she proposed gutting the roads budget and shifting it all to buses and sidewalks."

I don't believe anybody proposed gutting anything.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 14, 2011 | 1:49 p.m.

I'm sure everyone loved the motion picture "Field of Dreams" and the saying that "If you build it, they will come."

If you build these high speed rail units, WILL they (the passengers) REALLY come? The last thing we need today is to build some system that is apt to be perpetually under-used.

Of course there can always be "inducements" to use the facility. The United Kingdom has essentially done that for years: taxing the hell out of motor fuel in order to subsidize their rail system. Their rail system should make money, because the distances between cities in the UK is much less than between many of ours.

Just what we all need! Confiscate (taxes) from Peter to pay Paul (to finance yet another federal boondoggle).

Show me hard proof of sufficient - and constant - ridership and I'll get on the bandwagon.

PS: My comment may seem at odds to my recent comments concerning railroads. Not so, because I was talking only freight and not passenger traffic.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 14, 2011 | 2:29 p.m.

Maybe Jay Nixon should ask Kevin Costner for the funds instead of Uncle Sam?

(Report Comment)
fred smith April 14, 2011 | 2:45 p.m.

Christopher Foote said "Or why not apply your same metric as to whether the state should receive federal highway dollars?"
Christopher if it were left to me I'd say fine, no federal money for Missouri roads. But that is simply a non-starter. Also, cars or automobiles in general are the chosen means of transportation by the vast majority in America trains are not. Trains are fine perhaps in small countries where the distance between cities is limited or where people can use them for commuting to work. However, people are not commuting from St Louis to KC.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield April 14, 2011 | 2:49 p.m.

"I don't believe anybody proposed gutting anything."

Which was my point. They won't propose it because they know that doing so would be political suicide.

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote April 14, 2011 | 2:59 p.m.

@Mark,

Figures from here (I used the figures for intercity rail and rounded up to be conservative):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_effici...

the original paper is here:
http://info.ornl.gov/sites/publications/...
Table 2.12 on page 2-14.
Their data is based on actual energy used (BTU) divided by miles traveled (passenger miles). This breaks down to just 22 passengers per train vehicle which does seem a bit low. A more efficient use of trains would certainly lower the amount of energy consumed. However, the same is true for cars. They used 1.59 occupants for determining energy use with cars.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire April 14, 2011 | 3:37 p.m.

So as soon as somebody explains how upgrading railroads guts the state highways then they will regain a small measure of credibility.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield April 14, 2011 | 4:00 p.m.

"So as soon as somebody explains how upgrading railroads guts the state highways then they will regain a small measure of credibility."

The current Federal gasoline tax rate is about 18.4 cents per gallon. States levy taxes, too. The average total is 48 cents for state and federal taxes. 2.86 cents of the federal tax that goes to fund mass transit, including trains.

If you want to upgrade railroads, the money has to come from somewhere. One of those potential somewheres is taking a bigger portion of the fuel tax -- perhaps at the same time the fuel tax is increased -- and using that to expand mass transit, including trains. Of course, this can go both ways. For example, some states (e.g., WA) have considered reducing spending on mass transit in order to free up more money for highways.

So the questions are: Are enough citizens willing to pay a higher federal and/or state fuel tax? If not, do they prefer diverting a larger percentage of the existing fuel tax(es) to rail and other mass transit, even if doing so means roads suffer?

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire April 14, 2011 | 6:52 p.m.

So then what becomes of the fuel taxes paid by the users of trains? And how do the automobile manufacturers and subcontractors get their steel to make the cars that run around on the roads? And how do the steel mills get the ore and the coal that they need to make the steel with. Etc...

(Report Comment)
Ken Geringer April 14, 2011 | 7:25 p.m.

The money comes from the defense/war budget. Latest one is $700,000,000,000. All borrowed money. Again an amount greater than the rest of the world. Six times more than the next largest nation.
Madness. Large reductions are necessary. Half of each years reduction should be spent in America building stuff we can use, and creating jobs.

(Report Comment)
fred smith April 15, 2011 | 1:49 p.m.

Paul Allaire said "So then what becomes of the fuel taxes paid by the users of trains?"

Paul you're looking at it the wrong way. Look at it this way, if I want to drive my car to and from work I pay for all the expenses I do not ask you to help me pay. So if you want to ride the train then you should expect to pay the expenses. I understand that with low ridership it will be expensive but that is the way with everything.
So just ante up and pay your own way and encourage people to join you and as more people do the cost will come down. Or you could just drive your car! As for your taxes for the roads I’m all for you getting them back for any period of time that you did not own an automobile. Will you give me my taxes back as long as I have not used the public transportation system which I have not?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 15, 2011 | 2:14 p.m.

Fred, you might want to look into the funding sources of roads in Columbia. Not just the fuel tax pays for them. For instance, Columbia has a sales tax for transportation purposes. Thus, anyone who buys anything inside Columbia's city limits that is taxable has paid something toward the roads. I think this tax also subsidizes the transit system and airpot to a degree as well.

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 15, 2011 | 2:48 p.m.

Read up on Chinese HSR. Their theory is to allow more freight on their traditional RR's by moving passengers onto HSR. Problem is, removal of passenger cars from regular rail, forcing MIDDLE class passengers pay for the far more expensive HSR tickets has left these people with No affordable means of transportation. Couldn't happen here could it?

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush April 15, 2011 | 4:56 p.m.

"Look at it this way, if I want to drive my car to and from work I pay for all the expenses I do not ask you to help me pay."
If that were a legitimate argument, automobile drivers alone would have to pony up the money to keep the US military in petroleum rich countries or the US Navy to ensure safe passage in shipping lanes.
But it's a fake argument. You demand other taxpayers pay for military occupations of other countries while pretending you shoulder all the burden for your own choices.
Look, I bike most everywhere, but I can't point to a room in my house lacking some permutation of petroleum. We're all "plugged in", but to claim that you alone bear all of the cost for your choices is ignorance at least and skulduggery at worst.
It's an analog of the phony - "everything I have, I earned."

(Report Comment)
fred smith April 16, 2011 | 1:43 p.m.

Greg said, "If that were a legitimate argument, automobile drivers alone would have to pony up the money to keep the US military in petroleum rich countries or the US Navy to ensure safe passage in shipping lanes."

First, Greg the US has the most powerful military in the world and with that comes a degree of responsibility i.e. ensuring safe passage of ships through international shipping lanes and yes helping fledgling democracies and the like.

Second, I do not demand that anyone pony up anything as your juvenile argument suggests. The need for a US military presence around the world is not necessitated solely by my use of gasoline for my car. It is more a result of our responsibility as stated above.

Further if the primary reason for US military presence in foreign lands were in fact oil then allowing oil companies to drill here in the US could eliminate such a presence. Especially when you understand that there is within our borders more oil than there is in Saudi Arabia.

Of course, one of the major impediments to drilling in the US are the misguided individuals who believe it is environmentally unsound. I say misguided because evidently they feel that it is environmentally safe to drill in other countries otherwise why do they continue to purchase tires for their bicycles and gas for their Prius’, that is of course produced from foreign oil. To be intellectually honest if one wants to reduce America’s dependence on oil, foreign or domestic then such a person should reduce their own consumption. If sufficient people are convinced or better yet encouraged with incentives and not coerced to follow, then they will have their way. Right now all such people are doing is what you accused me of and that is asking me to pony up for a life style they have chosen.

So as I said before I will pay for the cost to operate my car in the country. If you want to pay to ride a train that’s fine by me but don’t ask me to help unless YOU want to give me money for gas.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 16, 2011 | 2:51 p.m.

To understand why rail passenger service, current or potential, would probably be a financial loss in the United States, start by looking at maps - ALL OF THEM SHOULD BE TO THE SAME SCALE - of the United States; the United Kingdom; Germany, France and Benelux combined (or separate); and Japan. Note the short or relatively short distances between major cities on the UK, European and Japanese maps. Geography is geography.

And what does our government now offer in rail service? Amtrak. How well does that work? At least Canada's VIA Rail usually runs on time. I've been on the "Canadian" from Winnipeg to Vancouver when it arrived within 5 minutes of schedule over a distance of four Canadian provinces! In fairness, Amtrak is running over railroads which the government pays for the privilege but which see Amtrak as something that represents income to them but screws up optimal freight traffic.

Again, as I said in a post on another topic, we should consider someone's past and present track record in deciding whether we want to bankroll their future operations. They can SAY they're going to do this or that, but what have they done so far?

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire April 16, 2011 | 2:58 p.m.

"Further if the primary reason for US military presence in foreign lands were in fact oil then allowing oil companies to drill here in the US could eliminate such a presence."

So that is to mean that oil companies cannot drill in the US?

Somebody should have told British Petroleum.

"So as I said before I will pay for the cost to operate my car in the country."

Did you donate to the cleanup effort? Perhaps you volunteered your time? Maybe you have contributed some change to MODOT for the amount that they spend on roads that is beyond what the fuel tax covers.

There are people in the grocery store at this moment who are spending more for the same loaf of bread because the cost of grain has skyrocketed because so much land has been diverted to the production of corn for use as ethanol in your * car.

But let's not bother to attempt to put an actual dollar price with interest on the Iraq excursion. It's beyond anyone's ability. But speaking of that, I know a good place for you and your * car...

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams April 16, 2011 | 3:36 p.m.

Coupla' points.

Just WHO was it anyway who originally promoted ethanol as the GREEN way to go?

But have now conveniently forgotten (publicly) they did so? Just as they forgot low-flush toilets where you get to watch your swirling business far beyond socially-acceptable time-limits.

Musta' been the "Not Me" guy written about a couple of days ago.

Unintended consequences-R-Us. Farmers are laffin' all the way to the bank.

But many of us saw this coming. Y'all think switchgrass or ANY biofuel will be any better???????
______________________

Ellis: You are soooo right about putting things on an equal geographic scale. It's also the reason the 55 mph speed limit was so incredibly stupid. For west of the Mississippi, Texas and Montana have it exactly right.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush April 16, 2011 | 3:41 p.m.

"To be intellectually honest if one wants to reduce America’s dependence on oil, foreign or domestic then such a person should reduce their own consumption."
I'm fortunate enough to live close to my job and am still able bodied enough to use non-motorized transport.
So will you pay for my asthma treatment since I'm forced to breathe your exhaust from inefficient hydrocarbon combustion? Of course me billing you for asthma inhalers is absurd - just as absurd as the notion that you alone bear all the costs for your choices.
You're like the fellow on the top floor of a high rise who flushes whatever he wants down his toilet. Sure the lower floors flood every now and then, but that's not your problem.

There's an economic term for it. I've done the heavy lifting for you.
http://tinyurl.com/3beqqoa

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams April 16, 2011 | 4:22 p.m.

Gregg: Cost externalization.

Is that like when a person jacks around in school, doesn't know his asset from a hole in the ground, doesn't practice delayed gratification, can't hold a job, turns 50 and gripes about his/her plight, never saw a dollar that shouldn't be immediately spent, doesn't save.....and then expects ME to pick up the tab?

Yeah, I thought so.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 16, 2011 | 4:39 p.m.

My God, Michael, you've just characterized an entire American generation! Expand that into a novel and you'll be up there with Hemingway and Salinger. Do you need a literary agent? I work cheap.

You are a rather droll person.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush April 16, 2011 | 4:40 p.m.

Not exactly.
It's more like inheriting a bunch of money, growing investments by polluting environments, claiming that you've done everything yourself and duping a bunch of rubes into believing that sacrifice is only for the poor and elderly.

But you'd probably just like to complain more about the griping of others.
Or is it griping about the complaints of others?
Either way, I'll stay off your lawn.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams April 16, 2011 | 4:48 p.m.

Gregg says, "I'll stay off your lawn.
____________________

Probably should. I use pesticides.

But, anyway. As for me, I never inherited a bunch of money, I did "pollute" environments by being in the Environmental Chemistry business doing tests to determine the environmental safety (or lack thereof) of pesticides, I never claimed I did everything myself since I had the greatest group of employees EVER, and I can't recall using the pejorative "rube" in a public place, thereby insulting any Jewish folks around.

How'd you do?

Or did you match up with my description of "Cost Externalization" above? To whom do I send the check? Get Ellis's, too.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams April 16, 2011 | 5:01 p.m.

Ellis Smith pleads, "Expand that into a novel and you'll be up there with Hemingway and Salinger."
_____________________

Nah. I'm just a sprinter. Anything over 300 meters...er...words tires me out.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush April 16, 2011 | 5:10 p.m.

You didn't describe "cost externalization."
You didn't describe "rube."
You didn't describe me.

You did describe yourself.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams April 16, 2011 | 5:56 p.m.

Gregg:

Sure I described "cost externalization". Your link's definition was, "Cost externalizing is a socio-economical term describing how a business maximizes its profits by off loading indirect costs and forcing negative effects to a third party."

It's a short leap to put "Gregg Bush" in the slot for the words "a business". Seems to fit...perfectly.
_____________________

Yes, I kinda described "rube" by saying it's a pejorative against Jewish people. Just like "spic" and "spec" and "wetback" and "wop" and the N word that simply can't be spoken. So, yes I did describe it, and you became known as someone who willingly uses it. Publicly.
_____________________

No, I didn't describe myself. I can attest to the fact that I did NOT jack around in school, knew my asset from a hole in the ground, practiced delayed gratification, held jobs (including my own business), turned 50 and didn't blame anyone, saved a bunch of dollars, and I'm not expecting you to pick up my old-age tab. The jury is out on whether you were described, tho.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush April 16, 2011 | 7:27 p.m.

Michael,
We've never met. Your presumption of knowing me is arrogance.
I will encourage you to access a dictionary. Declarations do not engender reality. http://tinyurl.com/2utqlqd

Here's your decription of yourself that you can't seem to remember - "As for me, I never inherited a bunch of money, I did "pollute" environments by being in the Environmental Chemistry business doing tests to determine the environmental safety (or lack thereof) of pesticides, I never claimed I did everything myself since I had the greatest group of employees EVER."

As for your actual racist remarks, I'll let someone else request the removal of them.
But your confusion is reasonable since you stumbled into a conversation that wasn't about you, made it about you, got offended, made ridiculous claims and slandered me.
If you were significant, I might not be laughing so hard.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams April 16, 2011 | 7:59 p.m.

Gregg Bush:

I'm sorry, dude....you must be a young guy. "Rube" is an old pejorative for jewish folks. It may now mean "country bumpkin", but that's not how the ol' folks see it. You basically said the "N" word to jewish folks. Try not to do it again for 50 years or so until all those folks have died off.

As for deleting comments, I think the post containing your original use of the word has been deleted. At least I couldn't find it. I didn't flag it, but I guess I'm not the only older guy around who remembers.

So, no. I'm not confused.

But I liked your closing remarks from your last post. They were so....well....vintage.

Gotta admit, tho....You may be laffin', but when I consider how many folks fit the personalized definition of "cost externalization", I feel like cryin'.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush April 16, 2011 | 8:05 p.m.

The comment is still there. It's in the middle of my description of the Koch brothers.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams April 16, 2011 | 8:16 p.m.

Ah, at 4:40. Yes, it's still there.

But you are too young to know.

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 16, 2011 | 11:08 p.m.

"To be intellectually honest if one wants to reduce America’s dependence on oil"

Can't help it Bush, do you have to be intellectual, to be honest? Don't your feet smart, with all those wounds?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 17, 2011 | 2:48 a.m.

@ Frank Christian:

I tend to run for the hills when I hear anyone start talking about either "intellectual honesty" or "ethics." Have you noticed there seem to be two professions in particular that yammer on and on about "ethics"? Why is that necessary if those professions are indeed basically ethical?

Are we to suppose that prostitutes (female or male) endlessly discuss professional ethics? Well, maybe so. Do they also endlessly discuss "chastity" as well? It's all VERY philosophical.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush April 17, 2011 | 6:16 a.m.

Take it up with Fred, you two. It was his claim.

(Report Comment)
fred smith April 17, 2011 | 2:33 p.m.

First Paul, yes Americans companies do drill in the US. However the land leases they have been granted are in areas where the return on investment would be low causing the gasoline that could be produced from them to be more expensive than foreign sources. The areas better suited to development have all be deemed off limits – thank you extreme environmentalist.

Also, just think how much the chances of an Exxon Valdez or BP type accident would be reduced if we did not have to transport our oil by boat.

Yes, I did donate to the cost of the clean up from both the Exxon Valdez and the recent BP accidents in terms of what I pay at the pump. Again the best immediate solution is to allow drilling at home in the fertile areas to reduce the chances of an at sea accident.

I am one of those people in the grocery stores paying the higher prices for bread of which I agree ethanol is a contributor. I have never and will never support ethanol production. However the cost of ALL food and goods is going up because the cost of oil is going up. EVERYTHING in this country moves by truck in some cases several times before reaching your store, which contributes to the rising cost.

Greg, you’ve done the heavy lifting for NO ONE you have only served your own self interest. The majority of Americans do not want mass transit especially at a time when even the President is saying we need to cut 5 TRILLION dollars from the budget over the next ten years. So unless you intend to foot the bill YOURSELF forget it. As for your asthma I also have asthma and I will tell you my automobile does not make it any worse and my Fuji Sports 10speed makes it no better.

Also, isn’t it cost externalizing when Amtrak charges me in the way of a tax for a service that I do not use? Kind of like you flushing the toilet at the top floor.

As for roads everyone benefits from them whether they drive on them or not as goods and services travel on the roadways. This ease of delivery provided by such roadways allows for a more efficient therefore cost effective delivery system and overall reducing the cost of goods and services to everybody. Not to mention the better access for fire and rescue personal, police, mail delivery, none of which use high speed rail to perform their tasks.

Lastly, we have more cars on the roads today and the air and water are cleaner and without major increases in mass transit – go figure.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush April 17, 2011 | 5:45 p.m.

I understand your point, Fred. Furthermore, I'm sympathetic to it - neither you nor I want to pay for a service that we don't use or that doesn't benefit us in some way.
I will suggest that there are benefits that may not be apparent at first glance. You benefit by having less congested roadways if some cargo is moved by rail. Less congested roadways means you save more on fuel due to decreased idle times.
Regardless, it's a reasonable conversation to debate the best ways to use our limited resources. But, please drop the fiction that you bear all the cost for your choices. It is rare for a yacht to capsize from its own wake.

John Donne, Meditation XVIII:
"No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee."
400 years old and still relevant.

(Report Comment)
fred smith April 18, 2011 | 10:23 a.m.

Touché Greg nice literary reference and I must admit appropriate.
A yacht is a good analogy as they like trains are overpriced toys of the rich.
I do understand what you are saying however; yet I pay property taxes, I pay income taxes – federal and state, I pay sales taxes. In short whatever pool the monies for road construction or improvements are drawn from I have contributed to it. And driving an automobile is not just my choice it is the choice of the majority of Americans and we have agreed to ‘split the cost’ so-to-speak.
You are now asking me to pay for another transportation system that does not meet the needs of the average person. The average person does not go from St Louis to KC on a daily or even weekly basis. More likely the average person makes such a trip once a year or less. The average person needs to get from home to the office or workplace, to the grocery store, to the dentist or doctors office, to the babysitter. The train does not go to these places and neither does the bus. Devise a public transportation system that affords me the mobility that my automobile does and maybe I’ll help you pitch it to my fellow Americans. Then perhaps the majority will agree to split the costs but until then your yacht is needlessly capsizing my budget.
Thomas Mann’s character Hans Castorp in the book Magic Mountain lamented that getting used to life at the sanatorium meant getting used to not getting used to life at the sanatorium. I will never get used to people trying to putting their hands into my pockets without my permission.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield April 18, 2011 | 12:15 p.m.

"If that were a legitimate argument, automobile drivers alone would have to pony up the money to keep the US military in petroleum rich countries or the US Navy to ensure safe passage in shipping lanes."

Not just automobile drivers, but also everyone who heats their home with oil (pretty much the entire Northeast), uses products made out of plastic and buys things shipped by truck.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle April 18, 2011 | 12:32 p.m.

Agriculture, too. Especially meat production. Don't forget those, either.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire April 18, 2011 | 1:53 p.m.

Fools all of you for not seeing what a valuable and inevitable good and useful opportunity awaits.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield April 18, 2011 | 2:33 p.m.

Paul, physician, heal thyself. Why don't you seize this opportunity? It could be a way for you to stake your claim in life and make a fortune.

(Report Comment)
fred smith April 18, 2011 | 2:53 p.m.

Greg before I forget, you said "I understand your point, Fred. Furthermore, I'm sympathetic to it - neither you nor I want to pay for a service that we don't use or that doesn't benefit us in some way."
Yet, this is not entirely true. I have given thousands of dollars over the years to causes which have brought me no direct benefit beyond knowing I have done a good turn for my fellow man. I will undoubtedly give more in the future. Giving money without personal benefit or usefulness does not bother me. Wasting money does bother me.
As to trains reducing the congestion on the roadways this may or may not hold water when you consider that trains do not deliver to the doorstep but trucks do. Therefore trucks need to pick up the load and deliver it the final miles to the doorstep thereby causing congestion on the roadways. The only place trains might lessen the load is on the highways but don’t forget the other end where trucks were needed to deliver the goods to the rail yard.

(Report Comment)
thana kamsin July 2, 2011 | 6:57 a.m.

As to trains reducing the congestion on the roadways this may or may not hold water when you consider that trains do not deliver to the doorstep but trucks do. Therefore trucks need to pick up the load and deliver it the final miles to the doorstep thereby causing congestion on the roadways. The only place trains might lessen the load is on the highways but don’t forget the other end where trucks were needed to deliver the goods to the rail yard.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 2, 2011 | 7:58 a.m.

@thana kamsin:

You are correct; however, there's a developed technology which would make better use of energy and take some LONG DISTANCE trucking off U. S. and Canadian highways.

It's called "Piggy-Back" (named for a child's game). Immediately after WW II it enjoyed more use than it does now. The problem now is that trucking companies and railroads are competitors for intermediate and long-distance freight hauling, and BOTH have strong political lobbies.

With Piggy-Back the load is picked up by truck with either van trailers or flat-bed trailers, as needed, and is taken to a rail yard, where the trailers (just the trailers, not the trucks that pull them) are secured to flat-bend railroad cars. The resulting train, sometimes up to 80-100 cars long, then goes often non-stop across the country to another rail yard, where individual trailers are off-loaded and driven by truck to their final destinations.

That would take some long distance trucks off our highways, but it would ALSO require less fuel and create less pollution to move the same amount of freight than driving the same amount of cargo across the country using a significant number of trucks. It is proven that there are fuel and pollution reductions using rail and diesel-electric locomotives.

Selection of cargo needs to be a factor. For example whether the cargo is perishable.

Another variant of this is modular sea shipping containers, being done already.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 2, 2011 | 10:31 a.m.

also @thana kamsin:

There's something I neglected to mention about the "Piggy-Back" concept that in its early days "poisoned the well," as it were. The railroads, Santa Fe for example, not only owned the rails and the rail cars but also the trucks used for pick up and delivery. That angered the trucking companies. I can appreciate that.

There is NO technical or logistical reason* why truck companies couldn't handle pick ups and deliveries and the railroads could handle the rest - and everyone could profit - but chances of that happening are as good as a king cobra and a mongoose becoming friends. :)

*-There are no technical or logistical reasons why many things are a mess these days.

(Report Comment)

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