People are railing, for and against passenger rail, in response to an editorial on same. There are what seem like good points. For example, we pay taxes for roads why not for rail as well? I am more than happy to answer that. This is America. And while the government has consistently done whatever it can to make the cost of buying and fueling cars more expensive, American’s would rather drive. We love cars. They are part of our national culture. So adding rail creates a significant new tax for a service almost no one will use. But that’s hardly the only problem with that argument.
Passenger rail costs are not limited to the root infrastructure itself. That would be rails versus roads. Taxpayers would have to subsidize passenger rail-cars, fuel the cars, maintain the cars, probably pay the workers and their benefits, and support the entire system when it fails to turn a profit, which will be always and probably forever. While roads have some other infrastructure nothing compares to rail.
In contrast people buy their own cars, and pay for their own fuel and maintenance. They may buy the car to get to a job that’s probably not funded by taxpayers either. (Except in Concord) Taxpayers do not need to subsidize any of that where with rail we’re supporting all of it. So there is no possible apples to apples comparison to road and rail taxes.
The state also makes a lot of money on registration fees and fuel taxes for road vehicles, tolls and license plates, and some towns rely so heavily on registration fees that even minor reductions can cause budget issues. Passenger rail offers no comparable net increase in revenues and in all likely hood a net loss. So Passenger rail risks reducing revenues and increasing tax obligations for no significant greater good.
Grand infrastructure projects lacking obvious positive or long term revenue streams are usually some fringe issue boondoggle with only a handful of benefactors. So with no possible gain to taxpayers who would pay for it, it looks more like a scheme to redistribute wealth from car owners to pedestrians, the towns to the state, and the taxpayers to the money pit known as passenger rail. For the benefit of whom I have no idea. So while it sounds pretty, kind of like change we can believe in, it's actually just a black hole to dump money into.
Want to make better use of rail? Most studies show that freight Rail consistently earns more revenue than passenger and it does it all on its own. That creates revenue for the rail line, the carrier, and the government without shifting the cost burden to taxpayers an people who will never use the damn thing.
So instead of wasting time trying to figure out how to get a supposedly dwindling population to fewer and fewer jobs on a train we don't need, maybe we can focus on attracting jobs by attracting business, innovations, and industry.
Want to ride a train? Try Amtrak. We dump billion into that wreck just so Joe Biden can get more campaing money and pretend to be an everyday Joe.