The tragedy of trains in America is that instead of treating trains as technology that does something useful, they tend to be treated on the right as a culture war totem to be denigrated and on the left as a job-sink that’s supposed to generate make-work employment.
In the highway sector, by contrast, a relatively pragmatic spirit prevails.
Republicans are generally skeptical of spending money, but they acknowledge that it’s good to have roads and roads are useful, and they are normally willing to open the wallet here. And while Democrats always have their concerns about jobs and unions and such, they also recognize that if you do things to make cars drastically more expensive, it will make people’s lives worse and they’ll get mad.
But most people do not ride trains, and therefore nobody seems to particularly mind if the policies they adopt make trains bad. One major culprit here, discussed in a recent Niskanen Center policy br…