An Evening With Transportation Expert
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Like many Americans, Randal O’Toole loves passenger trains, yet he acknowledges that intercity passenger trains and – outside of the New York region – urban rail transit play little role in American life today. The replacement of passenger trains with cars, buses, and airplanes is similar to many other recent technological replacements: word processors replacing typewriters, calculators replacing slide rules, telephones replacing telegraphs, and cell phones replacing land lines.
However, only for passenger trains has the government spent billions of dollars a year attempting to turn back the clock and slow that replacement. O’Toole’s book Romance of the Rails asks why this is so and whether passenger rail has a significant role to play in the future.
Randal O’Toole will be discussing his book and some New Mexico-specific boondoggles like the Rail Runner and Albuquerque Rapid Transit (as well as potential boondoggles) at a reception held at the Rio Grande Foundation offices on Friday, November 9th from 6:00pm to 7:00pm.
Location: “The Liberty Hub” 4301 The 25 Way, Suite B (Americans for Prosperity signage) at Jefferson and I-25 across from Panera.
This is a free event open to the public. Pre-regisrations are appreciated. Light snacks will be available.
Romance of the Rails is the culmination of Randal O’Toole’s lifetime of research and experience as an enthusiast of the rails and as a transportation expert.
American transportation has undergone many technological revolutions: from sailing ships to steamships; canals to railroads; steam to diesel; horse-drawn to electric streetcars; passenger trains and urban rail transit to airplanes and automobiles. The government has allowed and encouraged most of these revolutions, but it spends billions of dollars a year attempting to turn back the clock for rail transit and intercity passenger trains.
To show why, O’Toole provides a detailed history of rail in America leading to the present, when federally subsidized efforts to return to rail’s golden age are doing more harm than good.
O’Toole examines the costly allure of high-speed trains and light rail, demonstrating that passenger rail doesn’t even work well in Europe and Asia, much less here. Far from being backward, America’s railroads are the envy of the world, moving freight efficiently and profitably while leaving passengers to other modes of travel that are faster, less expensive, and more convenient.
The book concludes that the passenger transportation of the future will rely on America’s 4 million miles of roads and on air travel. As Romance of the Rails thoroughly chronicles, Americans love passenger trains, but given the vast resources inexplicably being poured into them, we are being taken for a ride.
About the speaker:
Randal O’Toole is a Cato Institute Senior Fellow working on urban growth, public land, and transportation issues. His analysis of urban land-use and transportation issues, brought together in his 2001 book, The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths, has influenced decisions in cities across the country. In his book The Best-Laid Plans, O’Toole calls for repealing federal, state, and local planning laws and proposes reforms that can help solve social and environmental problems without heavy-handed government regulation.Romance of the Rails is the culmination of Randal O’Toole’s lifetime of research and experience as an enthusiast of the rails and as a transportation expert.
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