Friday, April 22, 2005

Trains vs. Highways

Tim West defends the interstate highway system here.

I concede that the interstate highway system was a net positive for the US. So, in hindsight, I guess it makes sense to say that it was a "good move."

But, doesn't a government-funded system of roads essentially equal a de facto subsidization of the automobile industry? The prevalence of good roads to travel on resulted in (1) the development of a massive trucking industry, and (2) the development of "sprawled" cities, where cars are a necessity for even basic provisions. In other words, more interstates = more car sales.

What if interstates had not been developed? What would have happened to the US? Would we be a third world country? Would we not be a superpower?

Or would we be even more powerful because we weren't dependent on foreign oil to power our now-necessary automobiles? Sure, there would always be cars in America, but maybe trains would have been much bigger players in long distance commercial and personal transportation. Imagine how much more advanced rail technology would be if US companies had gone full speed ahead on train technology development for the last 50 years...

UPDATE: For comments, see the original blog post here.

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