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Vanderbilt would be disappointed


  • Faster Headlines

  • Video: Nakayama-san, High Speed Rail & Transit Oriented Development

  • Discussion: What history forgot in financing


Faster Headlines:

Brightline, Disney announce plans for Disney Springs Station

Orlando Sentinel

More than eight years in, Texas high-speed rail company still lacks permits to build Dallas-to-Houston route

The Texas Tribune

Will "Amtrak Joe" Biden bail out California's troubled bullet train? Don't bet on it

Los Angeles Times

Hyperloop wants to change the world. Not everyone's convinced

CNN Business

Virgin Galactic delays key test flight after pandemic causes shutdowns

CNN Business


From the Captain:

When did it become the expectation that the government should build high speed rail?

That's not how the railroads were built in the US over 150 years ago. In fact, if Vanderbilt or Carnegie were here today, they would likely think we are backwards and simple minded. After all, from the transcontinental railroads to airlines...they were all built with private capital. It took entrepreneurs and investors together to built the great roads that brought California and New York together (plus those Hawaiian Islands).

Perhaps the builders of the transcontinental railroad had it right. They realized the value of rail was not in the tickets, but in real estate. A piece of beautiful land is worthless if someone cannot get to it. However, once you can easily access the land then trade flourishes and land values skyrocket. So that is how the railroads built America, by opening new land and markets.

Entrepreneurs, such as Central Pacific's Theodore Judah, would literally go through San Francisco selling shares of stock to anyone for their new startup rail company. The whole idea was to gain enough investors to be seen as legitimate from the Federal Government. Then the government would pay for the building the rail, and give land grants (which kind of sounds like the Hyperloop companies of today).

The railroad could then sell off the land grants at huge profits, and that is how the transcontinental railroad was built. In fact, the founder of Pacific Central Railway (who built the section from Sacramento to Ogden, Utah) stated:

"The Pacific Railroad will never be constructed so long as it remained a political - and thus a sectional - question. Any legislation is, for our project, the signal of defeat"

(from Empire Express, The Building of the First Transcontinental Railroad, pg 69).

Now the whole process was ripe with corruption (just look into the history of Union Pacific Railroad), but the railroad got built at minimal cost. Instead today, we are expecting the federal government to pay, build, and operate the high(er) speed rail in the US. This doesn't make sense, and the reason why after 11 years of work in California all we have only some viaducts built in secondary cities.

Rather, this is why the Brightline is model is our choice: vertically integrating to capture both transportation revenues and the real estate. After all, this has been tried, tested, and proven to turn hundreds of billions in profit 150 years ago.


Vintage Travel: The Delta Airlines Widget

What's a widget? Well it's the same as the United Tulip, or heck even the Golden Arches. It's the logo of Delta Airlines. You know that triangle thingy that is easily recognizable, but not sure what it is. Also is it supposed to point straight up or to the side?

According the Delta Flight Museum, the widget is a combination of a jet flying above you combined with the letter "D" in the Greek Alphabet. Thus, it's a Delta Jet. However, it is not just a subsonic airplane, it also represents the delta wing of a supersonic jet. Talk about a complex logo.

The logo came into being in 1962 from Delta's advertising agency Burke Dowling Adams (BDA). Since then it has gone through multiple reiterations, including the "soft widget" of the 2000s (the curvy edition), and the red widget of the 2010s.

Traditionally the widget points directly up. However, on the airplanes tail and seats you will notice that the widget is tilted to the left by 45 degrees. This is actually a testament to the 2008 merger with the Northwest Airlines.

Who knew that there was so much behind a widget.

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