Free Markets and Public Transportation



Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

Related Post Roulette

5 Responses

  1. It’s not just about govt subsidies. Rail was much faster back then and roads sucked. From the blog Broken Sidewalk which covers urban development issues for my city:

    “A century ago, if you were travelling outside of the center city, you wanted to be on a train. Just take a look at Frankfort Avenue up above from 1910. The dirt turnpike is muddy and full of potholes and would likely have been an unpleasant ride in a wagon or early automobile. Luckily for Louisvillians past, a state of the art interurban train ran parallel to the road providing a quick, reliable, and smooth ride out into the far reaching hinterlands.

    These commuter trains could speed you in and out of Louisville at 65 to 89 miles per hour, breezing past motorists stuck in the mud. Imagine the convenience today of traveling nearly 90 mph out to St. Matthews, Lyndon, or Anchorage from a dense and thriving core city.”

    The road pictured in the post is now a very heavily used 4-lane artery in our city. So the choice was crappy dirt road in a Model T or a train that went 65-90 MPH. Technology rendered the trains obsolete, not government subsidy. Most inter-urban railroads disappeared before govt subsidy of roads.Report

    • Avatar carlos the dwarf says:

      @Mike at The Big Stick:

      Its worth noting that train speeds have declined in the past hundred years. The Acela, America’s fastest passenger train, takes people from Boston to DC at the exact same speed that people could travel that route in 1910. It’s not just that our roads have gotten better: it’s that the government also made the conscious choice to disinvest in rail transit.Report