High-Speed Rail Does Not Help Economy


Jerry Nickelsburg, a senior economist at UCLA, recently released a study on Japan’s bullet train that shows there was little to no discernible economic effect on the regions which the train serviced. According to the Los Angeles Times:

The analysis looked at nearly a dozen urban and rural prefectures and found no evidence that the introduction of bullet train service improved tax revenues, which was used as a proxy for local gross domestic product. In one case, one region without high-speed rail service grew just as quickly as a similar region with it. The study examined economic activity over a 30-year period. …

Nickelsburg also raises the possibility that the train will create rather than contain urban sprawl. By increasing the potential for workers to live far from their employment, it would not create new jobs but move them to the Central Valley.

Dipu Gupta, a lecturer at UC Merced to whom the California High Speed Rail Association referred questions regarding the study, said such increased sprawl would require tight land use and zoning restrictions.

Nickelsburg’s study raises doubts about the main arguments made by California labor unions, the main proponents of the project, and calls into question state officials’s claims that the $68 billion high-speed railroad project will create up to 400,000 permanent jobs.