Washington State should get out of the high-speed rail business
The WSDOT announced today that Washington State will receive an additional $145 million in federal high speed rail money. Washington has now received $735 million in high speed rail funding.
This money became available because other states, like Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida have rejected previously awarded funding for high speed rail.
As columnist George Will explains:
The three governors want to spare their states from paying the much larger sums likely to be required for construction-cost overruns and operating subsidies when ridership projections prove to be delusional. Kasich and Walker, who were elected promising to stop the nonsense, asked Washington for permission to use the high-speed-rail money for more pressing transportation needs than a train running along Interstate 71 between Cleveland and Cincinnati, or a train parallel to Interstate 94 between Milwaukee and Madison. Washington, disdaining the decisions of Ohio and Wisconsin voters, replied that it will find states that will waste the money.
Apparently, Washington has become one of those other states.
Washington State officials should get out of the high speed rail service. It loses millions of dollars per year and more importantly, it competes with private sector companies that also provide intercity transportation, like charter buses and airlines.
Using public taxes to artificially shift demand from an efficient sector of
the economy (airlines and charter bus companies) to one that loses money (Amtrak) is a waste of resources and places hometown businesses at a competitive disadvantage.