Dan Gainor

While the post also attempted to give other reasons for Porky Pig project, they are easily derailed. Look at the proposed Tampa-Orlando route. It’s 84 miles and plans claim to expect between 1.9 million and 3 million riders each year, depending on how many tourists use the train to go to Disney World. That must mean they are expecting people to come from Tampa – about 72 miles away from the resort – probably shouting “I’m going to Disney World” all the way.

Who could afford it? Amtrak’s much-touted Acela high-speed train costs at least $86 a ticket from Washington, D.C. to Wilmington, DE, just slightly farther than this trip would be. Now picture a family of four paying similar rates for one day trip to Disney World. That would double the cost of their daytrip to the park all for one train ride. Come on kids, let’s ride Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, but make sure we stop at the bank on the way.

High speed rail works better in congested areas. There are only 5.4 million people in the Orlando/Tampa area. Now look at the Northeast corridor where Amtrak has the Acela train journalists love so much. That stretch from Washington to Boston contains 44 million people – about one-seventh of the entire U.S. population.

Envision the idea that nationwide high-speed rail would even work because of the distances and big empties involved. After all, Europe has high-speed rail, why not us? Europe also has nearly 200 million more people, 27 countries in the European Union and just 44 percent of the land that the United States has.

So why then all the news about it? Because this story highlights another disconnect – not just with the Obama administration but with the press.

It’s not surprising that leading Dems live in some fantasy where Americans can all suddenly afford to ride high-speed rail just like the vice president.

But journalists are also the problem. They like high-speed trains because they think it’s like building a network of Acela routes, like New York to Washington, our financial and political capitals – the places that matter to journalists. They don’t need to travel from Mobile, AL to New Orleans (one silly proposed route) or from Tampa to Orlando.

Journalists seem to expect that parts of the nation they denigrate as “flyover country” will magically turn urban if they get high-speed rail. And somehow the rest of us will become enlightened and give up our cars and hop on board.

Meanwhile, Democrats are taking us all for a ride to the 2012 election, and expecting us to pay the freight.


Dan Gainor

Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Free Market Fellow and director of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute.