Glaeser on High Speed Rail in Texas

Ed Glaeser concludes his four-part series on the long-mooted high-speed rail link between Houston and Dallas, looking at the effects such a link might have on centralization versus sprawl:

Over the last three weeks, I have tried to put together figures for a hypothetical high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston. A link between Dallas and Houston is not one of the designated corridors, but a link between the country’s fourth and sixth largest metropolitan areas is not obviously less sensible than many of the proposed links.

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These numbers suggest that costs will exceed benefits each year by $524 million if the rail line has 1.5 million customers, and by $401 million if the region’s rail demand has a huge rate of growth and attracts three million riders.

Glaeser concludes:

Despite the lack of any positive evidence linking centralization to high-speed rail, I certainly accept that there is a great deal of uncertainty. To give rail the benefit of the doubt, I’ll assume that high-speed rail will cause 100,000 households to switch from suburb to city in both Dallas and Houston. This change would create extra, annual environmental benefits of $29.7 million. These benefits would be real, but they would still do little to offset the $524 million or $401 million net annual loss discussed above.

Randall O’Toole weighs in on Glaeser’s series.

While a rail link between Houston and Dallas has been discussed for years, it was not included in the administration’s proposal for high-speed rail corridors, which would look like this:

high_speed_rail_1