In November 2014, Texans overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment that diverted general revenue to funding roads. Just one year later, Texans hit the polls again and with a resounding 83% calling for more road funding by passing Proposition 7. Texans have sent a clear message. They want their roads! Texans love the independence that roads bring. The proposed Dallas to Houston High-Speed Rail project is not mass transit. And it most definitely will not solve the intra-city traffic problems of Dallas and Houston; nor will it solve the nonexistent intercity traffic jam on I-45. This proposed project will only serve a very narrow segment of the population that can afford to pay costs comparable to that of an airline ticket. Let’s remember, also, that high-speed rail is “successful” (not profitable, though) only where traditional passenger rail is already successful. When was the last time you rode a train full of commuters between Houston on Dallas?
Vice President Joe Biden was in Dallas this week championing for the Dallas Houston project, calling it “vital for America to prosper in the 21st century.” While at this event, Vice President Biden was quoted as saying, “Ten years from now, you will look back on the risk you took,” acknowledging the obvious risks associated with the project. High speed rail worldwide is heavily subsidized. The inevitable taxpayer takeover of this project is not a risk that Texans can afford.
With his visit to promote the HSR, Vice President Biden highlighted the desire of the Obama administration to see HSR throughout the US and specifically in Texas. However, several factors indicate this is too risky of a project for Texans. Representatives of Texas Central are on record stating numerous times that the Japan Bank for International Cooperation will be the largest debt provider for the project. Hopefully, the Japanese government will recognize the lack of viability for this project. With a Japanese public-private partnership in the works to cover some $40million of the project, the Japanese public should be concerned as well.
The Dallas Morning News has quoted Texas Central Senior Advisor, and former Dallas mayor, Ron Kirk as stating that Texas Central will “aggressively pursue” federal loans if they are available. This “privately” funded project is becoming more and more public. Borrowing money from the government for a project that is destined for government control is simply a bad idea.
Another blow to the project is that now, due to environmental and cost constraints, this is no longer a downtown to downtown project. The project is slated to stop outside the Houston at HWY 290 and the 610 Loop. Riders heading downtown would need to find alternative transportation to reach their final destination.
As VP Biden calls for HSR in Texas, the citizens of Texas, who overwhelming do not support the current administration, really should be questioning the validity of this high-speed rail project. Our property rights, taxes and way of life all hang in the balance.