Transportation Bill Gives $45 Million To Maglev Project, Sets It Up For FailS

A new transportation bill signed by Bush on Friday would free up $45 million to build the U.S.'s first maglev train. The train will travel between Disneyland and Las Vegas at up to 300 mph and is meant to help ease traffic on the 250+ mile ride on Interstate 15. While I'm all for high-speed trains and efficient public transportation, isn't the Bush administration forgetting something?

Maglev trains are hella expensive. Sure, the $45 million is only supposed to pay for "environmental studies" in the first phase of the project, but the government can probably expect to spend a hundred times that amount before this thing is over.

Japan's Linimo maglev train, located near Nagoya, cost a cool $380 million to build and it's only 5.5 miles long. China's Shanghai Maglev Train, finished in 2004 in a country where labor's cheap and private land ownership is a pretty new concept, cost $1.3 billion for 19 miles of track-roughly $68.4 million per mile. What will $45 million buy in the States? 10 feet?

I love the concept of mass transit and one of my biggest gripes with the U.S. is how they let their train infrastructure shrivel and rot, but the paltry amount dedicated to such a pricey technology makes me wonder if this isn't just another attempt for Bush to greenwash his last few months in office. [Slashdot]

P.S. The picture is of the Shanghai Maglev Train, which has been criticized by locals for being showy, wasteful and impractical.