High-Speed Rail Is Not The Whole Story

Much is being made of high-speed European rail as a model for the United States. Last week U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood was in Spain, trying out its AVE high-speed trains.

Which is all well and good, in my view. But it’s important to remember that high-speed rail in Spain is part of a network of mass transportation choices.

The AVE trains are quite expensive, in the same price range as airline tickets. But Spain’s rail system has less expensive alternatives, a vast network of trains that travel at a slower speed and make more frequent stops. There are overnight trains with sleeper cars that will take you across the country for the price of a good hotel room.

There are also a myriad of bus lines, going virtually everywhere and offering a range of services. The nicest buses have extra-wide seats, tray tables, an attendant and box meals — all for a reasonable¬† price.

Spain also maintains a good network of toll highways, with very high tolls. Couple that with high gas prices and taxes (by U.S. standards) and there’s even more incentive to use mass transportation.

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One thought on “High-Speed Rail Is Not The Whole Story

  1. Maryanne

    Yeah, you can even get to the train station or the airport by public transport in many other countries. In the USA, even in cities with (by American standards) good public transport, like Washington, DC, options can be limited and expensive. For example, the DC Metro opens at 5:45 a.m., and to get an early train I have to take a taxi, which is NOT cheap….

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