Ryan Avent has provided excellent coverage of many of the flaws of Ed Glaeser's ongoing analysis of Cost and Benefits of HSR. and his current piece, Ed Glaeser's Rail Fail, is not exception.
Indeed, I read Ryan Avent's piece first, before reading Ed Glaeser's work, so I would not feel the need to vent on another one of Ed Glaeser's analytical flaws that had already been explained more clearly by someone with a broader readership in the area.
Still, one thing struck me, in addition to what Ryan Avent says, which is that Ed Glaeser in the most recent piece comes out with a blatant lie, and indeed one that is highly likely to mislead the casual reader:
As in the previous two posts, I focus on a mythical 240-mile-line between Houston and Dallas, which was chosen to avoid giving the impression that this back-of-the-envelope calculation represents a complete evaluation of any actual proposed route. (The Texas route will be certainly far less attractive than high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor, but it is not inherently less reasonable than the proposed high-speed rail routes across Missouri or between Dallas and Oklahoma City.)
The proposed HSR route across Missouri and the proposed route between Dallas and Oklahoma City are 110mph Emerging HSR routes. But Ed Glaeser pretends that this part of Obama's HSR policy package simply does not exist. The very GAO study that he uses to estimate the cost of an Express System at $40m per mile says that the cost of Emerging HSR corridor proposals lie between $4m and $12m per mile. So for the kind of corridors he cites here, his capital cost estimates are inflated Threefold to Tenfold.
The whole argument falls apart right there. Nobody is proposing an Express HSR corridor for any route expected to serve 1.5m riders per year. All proposals for routes expected to serve riderships in the 100,000's to 1m's are 110mph "Emerging HSR" systems or 125mph "Regional HSR" systems. Actual projects to develop 220mph "Express HSR" systems are to serve riderships of far more than 1.5m.
So the strongest conclusion that is available to him is that if we were to abandon the White House policy - which focuses capital-intensive Express HSR corridors on opportunities to attract substantial riderships, and focuses on capital-efficient Emerging HSR for the situation he imagines for Dallas/Houston - and instead adopt a policy of funding all Express HSR corridors nationwide to serve riderships 1m or 2m, that would not be cost-effective.
Well, "No Shit Sherlock"!
Last week, this was an omission ... a "failing", a "flaw", even "ignorant misinformation".
But this week, he directly claims that he is analyzing a hypothetical project that is similar to actual projects being proposed.
And then points to corridors where that is a flat out lie.
What can I say? Its going to take more than one person to call Bullshit on this lie. Search for news articles with letters to the editor or online commentary that echo this lie ... here is one google search to get started ... and point out that Ed Glaeser has stepped over the line from shoddy analysis to a clear, direct, lie about current High Speed Rail policy.