Paul Weyrich, after commemorating the 50th anniversary of the National Defense Interstate Highway System, points to one possible solution to the current high gas prices: rail travel. Before the Interstate, major long-distance travel was done by railcar. The railroads crisscrossed the nation, hauling freight as well as people. Few Americans used cars even for travel within their towns, and buses had their own problems.
But the Interstate--and affordable automobiles--changed everything and the rail system is currently a former shadow of itself. Weyrich supports funding of the rail system, which is not currently receiving a lot of money from the government. Weyrich points out, for example, that an average train can move 700 people with one motorman. Ten buses with drivers would be required to move an equivalent amount. More importantly, modern trains are powered by electricity which would drastically reduce dependency on oil. All what would be needed, Weyrich argues, is more light rails especially in major metropolitan areas. Such systems would remove what is considered rail's greatest disadvantage.

We have misgivings about Weyrich's argument. Even he admits the cost of constructing such a rail system would be initially high. There's also the environmental impact of all those rails spread out across a city. Would switching from roads to rail be trading one set of problems for another?

[Source: Renew America]

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