Rebutting bad defenses of the Northern Lights Express

I’m always surprised at the amount of pushback that criticisms of the Northern Lights Express draw. I write about a number of contentious topics here — taxes, spending, regulations, for example — but they rarely draw the same level of response that I get when I point out what a total waste of money this project would be.

My post last week was no exception. It drew a number of responses on Twitter, none of them very convincing. Still, I thought it would be handy to collect my rebuttals.

You will still have to drive to the train station

“Do you have elderly family or friends? Do you think it’s easy for them to operate a car?”

But of course, unless you’re in the happy position of living within walking distance of the train station — which isn’t very far if you’re too elderly to drive — and of your ultimate destination being within walking distance of the station at the other end, you will still have to drive to and from the station.

For almost nobody, in fact, elderly or not, will the Northern Lights Express eliminate driving.

Where do you think federal money comes from?

“Actually it’s a good investment especially when most of the money will come from the Feds.”

“Almost all of that 500 million is coming from the feds, way to lie though”

Federal money comes, of course, from taxpayers in places like Minnesota. The notion that federal money appears by magic is a major reason the American economy is in a mess.

The train will serve almost nobody between the Twin Cities and Duluth

“$500 million to provide brand new safe, reliable transportation options for every Minnesotan, fostering economic opportunities for every city Northern Lights Express will serve…”

The Northern Lights Express is, in fact, going to serve almost no communities between the Twin Cities and Duluth. It is planned to have just two stops — Cambridge and Hinckley — between the two metros and, of course, adding more stops will make the already slow service even slower. It is hard to tell how economic opportunities for other towns along the route are going to be ‘fostered’ by having empty trains rumbling slowly through them a few times a day.

Source: Minnesota Department of Transport

Of course, the trains in the picture are old, but we realized what a waste of money this was 40 years ago

“you can tell this is an unbiased source because they used a 40-year-old picture of amtrak rolling stock, all of which has been entirely removed from service”

The picture we used was the most recent one we have of an Amtrak train running to Duluth. It happens to be 40 years old because that is the last time an Amtrak train ran to Duluth. That is how long ago we realized what a waste of money it was to use trains to ferry air, slowly, from one part of the state to another.