|Real-life American humans waiting to ride a high-speed rail train (!!!).|
A U.S. high-speed rail line would need ridership of 6 million to 9 million people per year to break even. The high-speed Acela service, despite operating in the busy Northeast Corridor, averages only 3.4 million passengers per year.With Acela capturing barely half the "minimum" break-even ridership, one might imagine after reading Feigenbaum's article that the rail service has been a catastrophic failure. Clearly, we shouldn't waste our money on any more high-speed rail boondoggles. A quick look at actual facts, however, shows that Acela is doing quite well: despite its trains, which can only travel a maximum of 150 mph; its decrepit tracks, which don't allow the trains to travel anywhere near its max speed for most of its length; and the fact that it has to share many miles of those tracks with freight, Acela is killing it.
Here's Amtrak's most recently monthly report, which shows Acela has generated over $240 million in operating profit – literally more than half of its revenues – since the beginning of the fiscal year:
|Taken from the June 2014 Amtrak Monthly Performance Report, page C-1.|
If I were running a Metro or any other transportation authority I'd be treating Reason's jabs and low-blows as a badge of honor. And if their previous reports are any indication, California's impending high-speed rail service is in for a bright, prosperous future.