It’s always fun to spend someone else’s money. So I suppose Op-Ed authors Chris Gregoire, Alex Hudson and Mark Riker can be humored in their call for “ultra” high speed rail (HSR) between Vancouver, B.C., Seattle and Portland at the cost of tens (or hundreds?) of billions — to be paid for by someone, somewhere else, of course. Seattle to Portland (or Vancouver) in an hour: Affordable (if someone else pays for it anyway) travel.
Here’s the deal. Before COVID-19 you could already get from downtown Seattle (Lake Union) to downtown Vancouver (Coal Harbor) in an hour via seaplane. Using commuter planes (take off at Boeing Field) to Portland International Airport also takes about an hour. Cost to the taxpayer? Nada. Small planes don’t require much in the way of security procedures, so no time lost there. And electric commuter planes are on the horizon, so no carbon savings via HSR.
Gregoire, Hudson and Riker state an “economic growth potential of $355 billion.” If that’s true, then let the private sector build the line, without subsidy, and reap the net potential benefits, if any. Much as I’d like to see them off on some fabulous junket, I’m not all that eager to be taxed to make this happen. So if they can get this built for no taxpayer cost (ha!), I’m all in. Otherwise, not so much.
Donald F. Padelford, Seattle