According to KTRH radio, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is studying the possibility of building a high speed rail line from Houston to Austin. The suggested price tag is $1 billion.
What does TxDOT proposed to do?
TxDOT states that the proposal is just in the study phase at the moment. The department needs to determine the cost of maintenance, revenue, and ridership before making an actual proposal.
How does one get to Austin from Houston currently?
According to distancefromto.net, Austin is just 146 miles from Austin by car. Depending on traffic, a trip between Austin and Houston would last between two and a half and three hours by car.
The Greyhound Bus Company advertises a one way trip from Houston to Austin as lasting about three hours and costing between $12 and $16.
Southwest Airlines advertises a one way trip between Houston and Austin as costing $69.
What are the objections to a high speed rail between Houston and Austin?
Tom Bazan, a Houston political activist, a former independent candidate for Congress, and a critic of Houston Metro's mass transit operations notes that a tax payers may well be on the hook for a high speed rail system created by the government. Many critics of high speed rail point to the experience of California where, according to the Neon Tommy site, a review has stated that costs for the state's high speed rail project have ballooned from $43 billion to $98.5 billion. The project only has $12.5 billion on hand with no notion how to get the rest.
What do supporters say?
No one has actually come out and supported a state funded high speed rail system between Houston and Austin yet. Both TxDOT and State Representative Garnet Coleman, D-Houston maintain that the idea is worth at least a look.
According to the Hill, President Barack Obama has included $47 billion for high speed rail projects in his 2013 budget proposal. Obama has a goal of 80 percent of Americans having access to high speed rail by 2025. Congress zeroed out high speed rail funding in the 2012 budget, however/
Are there any other high speed rail projects being considered in Texas?
A Houston based company called Lone Star High-Speed Rail is marketing a Japanese made high speed rail system for the Texas market. This reporter has noted previously that the company is exploring the possibility of a Houston to Dallas line at a cost of $5 to $8 billion, using primarily private funding.
Texas resident Mark Whittington writes about state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.