Next meeting: Apr 6th: 7:30 Central
The Haters and High Speed Rail
Seattle & Portland Airport
Cascadia Rail Meeting (April 13th)
Fox Business News
From the Captain
What the Republicans, Haters, and Loony Tunes are saying
So with a Democratic President, House, and Senate; we know that the Democrats are in support of the infrastructure package revealed last week.
However, this is the first pitch in a long game (which ironically won’t end up being played in Georgia), but how much is allocated to public transit and high speed rail is still up in the air (heck even ports and airports are unknown). Numbers will change as well as priorities; and it is important to remember that high speed rail wasn't even slipped into the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 until the very end. So sit back and enjoy the ride because a lot is going to be thrown around.
Unlike the Trump Administration and their "Infrastructure Week" this plan has legs (or wheels depending on you look at it). Plus, with changes to the reconciliation process in Congress (meaning how things get approved) it looks like infrastructure can avoid the dreaded filibuster. So this proposal appear to likely to happen. The question is...what will it look like at the end?
So instead of analyzing what the current proposals are, I figured let’s take a hard right and see what the haters are saying about the infrastructure package.
The Party Poopers
So here are the legit Republican perspectives. To summarize, everyone is fully supportive of roads and bridges. Some Republicans are supportive of public transit (including the $80 billion going to Amtrak), while others didn't even mention it in their protests. So overall, there really no discussion on High Speed Rail. It is totally flying under the radar.
The largest issue with this group is using corporate tax increases to offset the investment in infrastructure. Which I don't think is a strong argument. The Republicans are claiming that corporate tax increases will slow the economy, but Biden plans to create thousands upon thousands of jobs counters the Republicans claims. The other argument being made is that moving to Green infrastructure will cost West Virginians jobs as traditional energy jobs move away (but they have the Hyperloop!). Of course, we all live in West Virginia.....right?
Meanwhile we know that since the Republicans have no plan of their own, they are just going to be party poopers for the infrastructure plan. However, they are only going to be successful if a Democrat or two comes to their side (Back to West Virginia). But overall, nothing that isn't expected here:
The Washington Post
Mitch MCConnell Official Website
Then we have the Haters:
Who just want to shout propaganda and claim every idea to be a radical left wing hypocrisy.
The good news here is they are going crazy about the Green New Deal. No mention of public transit or road ways being an issue. It is all about government welfare programs and sustainable misinformation for them. However, high speed rail is totally off their radar, which is a very good thing.
Then we have the loony tunes.
These news sources do very little research and operate primarily on emotion, and in the case of One America News I have seen better news presentations from an undergrad presentations class. However, high speed rail is not mentioned anywhere her as well.
One American News Network
The lone mention of high speed rail was an article back on March 30th from OANN, which expected Biden to include high speed rail and instead talked about how the Hyper loop would be much cheaper and faster. If you watch this video, please count the number of inaccuracies, misinformation, and misrepresentation.
One American News Network
Bonus: Cascadia Rail Part 1: Seattle-Tacoma Airport
For the Cascadia Rail Project, the team is now learning about the airports, airlines, and major transportation infrastructure of the corridor. This week we are going to start at the core of the Cascadia Rail Project – Seattle Tacoma Airport, or SEA-TAC for short.
SEA-TAC is very small and dense airport. In 2019, they handled 212,769 flights and nearly 24.9 million passengers s in only 3.9 square miles. Compare that Minneapolis/St. Paul which only handled 19.2 million passengers and 184,181 flights...but is 4.6 sq miles (or nearly 20% larger). For reference Madison Dane County is bigger than both these airports at 5.5 square miles. So SEA-TAC is a very tight and busy airport.
Alaska Airlines has always had its main hub at the airport and is the largest carrier with 69,652 flights in 2019, followed by Delta at 33,457 flights, and Southwest at 11,195 flights (Skywest is actually the 3rd largest but operates flights for Alaska and Delta). Also, the airport has at least 17 international carriers serving destinations as far as Dubai, Frankfurt and Beijing. Until the 2000s United even had a hub there as well, but moved most of their operations to San Francisco and Denver. However, SEA-TAC is a transportation powerhouse!
The problem with SEA is it is maxed out, but the Puget Sound area is seeing rapid growth. The airport is in the process of rebuilding its concourses to add space, but there really is no space to expand to. The airport Is maxed out, and only threatens to become even more overcrowded as the Puget Sound Area continues to grow.
Also, in Seattle Amtrak is a player. In 2019, 35,117 passengers used the Amtrak station right outside of the airport and Seattle Union Station saw 682,132 passengers. While we don’t have route data yet (gonna take some more research Portland also saw 585,344 passengers) It can be assumed that close 500,000 Amtrak passengers could be added to the crowds at SEA-TAC AIrport
This is the challenge: can high speed rail help reduce the overcrowding in SEA-TAC by rerouting passengers from regional flights to high speed rail? We don't see why not.
After all, in 2019 over 664,000 passengers flew between SEA-TAC and Portland alone. The airport is already next to Amtrak's Cascadia route, the economic need is there (meaning political will is there too), there is a high amount of public transit use already, and the region is growing. Seems like an easy choice to us.