字幕表 動画を再生する 英語字幕をプリント The US doesn't have high speed rail Does Biden want to change that And is high speed rail a good idea? Welcome to America Uncovered, I'm Chris Chappell. And hey, if you're watching this and you aren't subscribed, please, consider subscribing. It's a huge help to the show. Okay, so why doesn't the US have high speed rail? The US is one of the most advanced, prosperous countries in the world. And yet while trains in China look like this. Trains in the US still look like this. American infrastructure is completely designed around cars. Currently, more than 85% of Americans use cars to commute, and just 5% use mass transit. And sadly, less than 1% use the most efficient form of transport: ostriches. Probably because they're not allowed at drive-thrus. Quit discriminating, Wendy's! You can thank President Eisenhower for making driving more feasible through the Interstate Highway System. Which means you can also thank Eisenhower the next time you're stuck in traffic for three hours. But President Biden wants to change that. Last month, we covered Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure plan. It allocates 600 billion dollars to transportation. Part of it includes Biden's efforts to encourage trains instead of cars and airplanes. In particular, Amtrak. $80 billion [of Biden's transportation investment] would go toward tackling Amtrak's repair backlog, improving service along the Northeast Corridor and expanding service across the US. Biden's a big fan of Amtrak. In fact last week, Biden — a.k.a “Amtrak Joe” — visited the Amtrak platform in Philadelphia. That was to celebrate Amtrak's 50th anniversary. And of course to pitch his "Getting America Back on Track" campaign. Get it? “Back on Track?” Track? I'm sure his political advisors worked on that one for days. You know who's happy about it? Amtrak's CEO. “America needs a rail network that offers frequent, reliable, sustainable, and equitable train service. Amtrak has the vision and the expertise to deliver it.” You see, Amtrak is a for-profit company, but the federal government is its majority stakeholder. Big business and big government together at last! And it's about as dysfunctional as you'd imagine. Amtrak has lost money every single year since it was created in 1971—and has swallowed up tens of billions of dollars in subsidies from both the federal and state governments. Even the father of Amtrak admitted that he's “personally embarrassed” by what [he] helped to create. Kind of like Tom Hanks with his son Chet “White Boy Summer” Hanks. But Biden's plan to give Amtrak 80 billion more dollars will surely fix everything! Biden says it will be good for jobs and create economic opportunity. And he also says trains have a low climate impact. Come on Joe , everyone knows the best mode of transportation for the environment are ostriches! But Biden's plan doesn't specifically mention high-speed rail. Because it turns out there are some serious problems with the world's high speed rails. I'll get to that after the break. Welcome back. So Biden wants more trains. So does Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. And Buttigieg specifically says he wants high-speed rail. “I want the US to be leading the world when it comes to access to high-speed rail.” But so far, we don't know any specific details on how the Biden administration will directly help develop high-speed rail. So far, the most reliable rails that get people to work quicker… are dangerous and illegal. Why is it so hard for the US to get high-speed rail? A big reason is because high-speed rail is extremely expensive. In fact, high-speed rail systems worldwide are generally not profitable. Even in China, where high-speed rail is touted by the government as a “miracle”... ...it loses money. Not to mention all the corruption involved. And the occasional head-on collision. Of course, the most dangerous, corrupt, and money-losing “miracle” touted by the Chinese government is... the Chinese government. But even in a country where labor is dirt cheap... and authorities can tear down any neighborhood to lay track... or even build a track right through people's homes... China's high-speed rail still loses money. Miraculously. In fact, in the entire world, with hundreds of high speed train routes, covering tens of thousands of miles—just two of those routes operate at a profit. Even the Polar Express loses money. Probably because no one wants to ride it since the conductor looks so creepy. And has such an embarrassing son. The European Court of Auditors admits that European high-speed rail networks have issues. That's even though it's more efficient to build high-speed rail in Europe, which has a smaller land area and denser populations. But America is a lot more spread out. High-speed rail is good between important cities that are too far apart to drive easily, but not so far apart that you might as well take an airplane. Which pretty much only describes...parts of the East Coast. And that's why “Countries that have built high-speed rail have typically done so to reduce crowding on existing rail lines, not as a substitute for roads.” Roads? Where we're going… we're still gonna need roads. Thanks, Eisenhower! At least the 5% of us using mass transit have more legroom. High speed rail lines are hard to build from scratch. Especially when you're a lot larger than Japan, or France—the only two countries that have profitable high-speed rail lines. California is learning this the hard way. Its own high-speed rail project ballooned from its original $35 billion price tag to over $100 billion. That's because of another big hurdle to high-speed rail in the US: politics. California's high speed rail project originally planned to run 520 miles between San Francisco and Los Angeles. But then California decided, hey, why not start building between Merced and Bakersfield. That's the train route we've all been dreaming of. Because who wants to go wine tasting in Napa, when you can go meth tasting in Fresno? From there, it became...let's call it a failure. Or even a nightmare. A lot of it had to do with politicians trying to appease their constituents, and then dealing with unions, and then having to buy private property, and then...well, we're talking about $800 million dollars in cost overruns. This has drained money allocated to fund California's high-speed rail, for very minimal results. But to be fair, California is so expensive these days, $800 million dollars only gets you an off-season day pass to Disneyland and a half eaten churro. A former chairman of California's High-Speed Rail Authority board claims it “is no longer what he and other proponents of the 2008 bond [for the high-speed rail] pitched to voters.” “Central California is now being wrestled over the bones of what's left of the high-speed rail money. And what does that mean? It means that there are politicians up in Sacramento, politicians in LA, politicians in San Francisco who say, 'Forget about Central California. That's been a bust. Spend that money on the bookends and whether it connects or not, well, that'll be down the road.” Yeah! Won't someone please think about the Fresno tourism economy? Okay, so the California high speed rail seems about as much of a disaster...as California in general. But surely if the federal government follows California's model, everything will work out great. Seriously. That seems to be their plan. The US Department of Transportation says it “looks forward to partnering with California as it leads the way” with high-speed rail. And here's an actual image we obtained of everyone following California's lead on high-speed rail. But if Californiacan't seem to do it without losing billions of dollars and still not completing the most important routes—then how can we expect the entire country to successfully build high-speed rail? Could Amtrak lead the way? I'll tell you after the break. Welcome back. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg says that Amtrak is great. Heroic, even. “Amtrak has done a heroic job with the restraints that had been placed on them.” What a great euphemism. Next time someone says I'm a catastrophic disappointment and failure, Dad, I'm gonna say, “No, I just did a heroic job with the restraints placed on me.” Amtrak already has a functioning high-speed train. Sort of. Amtrak's Acela line runs between Washington, DC and Boston. It can go up to 150 miles per hour. The problem is, it only goes that speed for just 34 miles of its 457 mile span. To be fair, I also only work at maximum efficiency for like 7% of the day. Oh, I guess I should finish. “Jim Mathews, president and CEO of the Rail Passengers Association, [says] that Amtrak may still be decades away from true high-speed rail.” And that “would require new infrastructure, including straight lines of track so trains can achieve their top speeds.” But making straight lines for high-speed rail isn't easy, and it isn't cheap. For high-speed rail, you've got to take into account that you need to move existing gas lines, sewer pipes, and telecom cables. You also have to buy property from private landowners. This is called eminent domain. But the federal government can't just declare “eminent domain” and buy what it wants. The California state government tried that. And it's been “tied up in endless litigation” for its land acquisition. Given all their past experience with it, I'm surprised our government is somehow getting worse at stealing other people's land. If only there were some profitable way to move people through the air, so you didn't have to deal with all that. And even if the federal government gets all the property it needs to build new high speed rail tracks, Amtrak doesn't seem to be interested in working on high-speed rail at the moment. “Amtrak said... that the corporation would upgrade and expand service… by adding 30 new routes and adding trains on 20 existing routes across the U.S. by 2035.” This is in addition to “$38 billion just to repair the existing infrastructure in the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak's busiest route [between] Washington DC [and] Boston.” So Amtrak will first spend money to repair tracks on its money-losing routes, and then expand service by adding 30 new low-speed routes. And then add trains on 20 existing low-speed routes. And then they'll build a profitable high-speed rail. At this point, to fix all their past mistakes, Amtrak is going to need to build a train that goes back in time. At least those trains don't need any rails. What do you think? Leave your comments below. And please, support America Uncovered by contributing a dollar or more per episode on the crowdfunding website Patreon. Go to Patreon.com/AmericaUncovered to learn more. Once again, I'm Chris Chappell. See you next time.