3015 Richmond,  Suite 201
Houston, TX 77098
phone: 713-522-0590
fax: 713-523-3057
Blueprint Houston Newsletter - November 2005

High Speed Rail & Evacuation Plans for Houston

In a New York Times op-ed piece on September 28, 2005, Otis White, a public policy consultant and columnist for Governing Magazine, cites the evacuation trials of New Orleans and Houston to renew the case for high-speed passenger rail. He dismisses as myth the two arguments that have blocked the development of high-speed rail outside the Northeast:

  • Rail can’t compete with cars and airplanes
  • The Northeast has unique characteristics that make inter-city rail work

He suggests that for trips of 100 – 500 miles—too short for effective air travel (one spends more time getting to and from the airport and going through security than in the air) and too long for comfortable driving—high-speed rail is very effective. He points out the number of cities outside the Northeast that fit that bill: Houston-Dallas; Chicago-Detroit; Miami-Orlando. And one might add Houston-Austin and Houston-San Antonio.

He also offers a solution to the barriers of up-front cost that is too much for private investors and management limitations of government. A public-private partnership in which the government fronts the financing and private industry leases perhaps, manages, and maintains the system could capitalize on the strengths of both.

“If the federal government needed another reason to support the development of modern, high-speed passenger rail, then here it is. Not only can it reduce congestion, save energy and strengthen regional economies, in time of emergency it could be a critical third way out.”

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