Economist’s Perspective on High-Speed Rail
The New York Times blog Economix is running a three-to-four part blog narrative by Edward Glaeser, professor of economics at Harvard University, that provides a cost-benefit analysis of the administration’s high-speed rail vision. Some of the costs that will be analyzed will include the initial construction and operating costs. Currently, Glaeser reports that the up-front costs are ranging from $22 million a mile to $132 million a mile. In his upcoming posts, more will be said about the operating costs, and the benefits for riders (and, perhaps, the benefits for a region served by high-speed transportation).
While it is important to calculate the start-up costs, another crucial part of the high-speed rail initiative is the investment return, a much more difficult figure to determine. Yes, a significant amount of money must be spent initially in order to establish rail service, but this spending is an investment, one that will reap benefits beyond finance. The potential to increase economic development and vitality has been shown already, but, additionally, rail can revitalize communities and create vibrant neighborhoods. The result is a prosperous and thriving region.