Podcast interview re trains w/ James McCommons

Posted this morning at Electric Politics, a podcast interview about passenger rail with James McCommons, author of the recently published
Waiting on a Train.
You'd be surprised at how difficult it is to find someone to talk about passenger rail, probably because people who know about trains -- even advocates of passenger rail -- don't want to acknowledge that passenger rail isn't ever, anywhere, a profitable enterprise. Instead, it's a clearly socialized form of transportation.
Other countries are OK with that but here in the U.S. it's like saying passenger rail has got cooties. How sad, and too bad for us...
James McCommons evidently doesn't know that he's not supposed to talk candidly about the economics or politics of the railroad industry. His explanations for things are reasonable, easily understood, interesting and extremely helpful.
If you enjoy this podcast please feel free to forward the link!
http://www.electricpolitics.com/podcast/2009/12/passenger_rail.html
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

_All_ transport is subsidised. The trick is figuring out how and where the subsidy pertains. In the US and Canada, the subsidies for passenger rail are up front, while the subsidies for truck freight and air traffic are hidden. Eg, could the trucking companies, even collectively, afford to build and maintain their own highway network? Where would our airlines be without the tax-paid weather reporting and traffic control networks?
Even bus companies put out their hands for subsidies. Recently, Greyhound threatened to stop running through Northwestern Ontario, on the grounds that it was losing money (it wasn't, but it needs a higher gross profit in order to pay the enormous debt taken on when its current (Texas-based) owners bought it from its previous (Calgary-based) owners (who made a tidy profit selling it.) It will get its subsidy.
Personally, I don't like subsidies, because they disguise the relationship between cost and price. Doesn't matter whether they are direct (through payments), or indirect (through provision of relevant services, and/or insufficient taxation.) But that's a whole 'nother topic, not for this forum.
cheers, wolf k.
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On Fri, 04 Dec 2009 16:46:14 -0500, Wolf K wrote:

I remember in the late '50s - early '60s when all the trucks started sportig stickers on the order of "This vehicle paid $5,835 in road taxes ;ast year." while totally neglecting to mention that this vehicle did $10,000 of road damage and cost $20,000 of extra expense in building roads to support its weight rather than the weight of automobiles. But most of the rubes cannot comprehend that the damage done by a vehicle's weight is related by a cube factor (twice as heavy does eight times the damage - 2 to the 3rd power = 8).
And, of course, subsidies and bailouts to Wall Street are NEVER, EVER socialism - no, never, no, no. Well, hardly ever.
--
Steve

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There's an easy way to remember when they are and when they aren't: Bailouts were "an investment in America's future" when Bush did it, but are Communisim when Obama does it.
See? Easy-peasy.
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