Commuter Rail Connecting Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem?

Local Democratic legislators filed a bill in the General Assembly to initiate a study for commuter rail service connecting the three primary cities within the Piedmont Triad.

A good question to ask is how that would work for individual commuters.

There would be a primary train station in each of these three cities. Few people would live or work near these train stations, so commuters would need another mode of transportation– car, bus, Uber, cab– on either end. That would make commutes extraordinarily lengthy. We have a metropolitan area that is not very dense; but instead it is sprawled out.

Another question is the amount of land that would need to be taken by eminent domain in order to build the rail line. Private property would be taken by government for a project that would not be terribly helpful to commuters because of the circumstances in the previous paragraph.

Let’s also think about the cost which is likely to be astronomical. It would probably be cheaper to purchase a car for every needy person who needs one instead of building this rail line.

Let them study all they want. It still won’t work. You need a critical mass of density and concentrated development around train stations in order to make rail viable as a commuter option.


2 thoughts on “Commuter Rail Connecting Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem?

  1. TC: All the points you make about this scheme are valid.

    It might be valuable to look at California’s experience ( albeit on a larger scale ) with something like what the NC Democrats propose to study.

    “We Told You Why and How California’s High-Speed Rail Wouldn’t Work. You Chose Not To Listen.

    The New York Times newsroom illustrates what happens when you listen to the New York Times editorial board.

    The infamous, $113-billion-and-counting California high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles, which was supposed to be completed by 2020 for a cost of $33 billion yet has only begun tinkering on a 171-mile stretch in the Central Valley, is not really “an existing project,” says former California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) Chair Quentin Kopp. “It is a loser.”

    Added ex-chair Michael Tennenbaum: “I don’t know how they can build it now.” And California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D–Lakewood): “There is nothing but problems on the project.”

    All these quotes come from a much-discussed article in Sunday’s New York Times detailing the grossly politicized decision making that has plagued the proposed bullet train ever since California voters foolishly approved an initial $9.95 billion bond measure to jumpstart it in November 2008.

    “Only now,” asserts author Ralph Vartabedian, “is it becoming apparent how costly the political choices have been. Collectively, they turned a project that might have been built more quickly and cheaply into a behemoth so expensive that, without a major new source of funding, there is little chance it can ever reach its original goal of connecting California’s two biggest metropolitan areas in two hours and 40 minutes.” ”

    Read the whole thing:

    And watch this:

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