The Detroit Free Press reports today that the Michigan State House is holding hearings on whether to consider a private plan to build a maglev rail line between Detroit and Lansing, the state capital, and Detroit and Ann Arbor, where the main state university is located. The company making the proposal, Interstate Traveler Company, claims that it could build the $2.3 billion system without public money, as long as it gets to use highway right-of-way for free. As an added bonus, profits would be split 50-50 with the government, and the line could begin construction by 2010! Does it get any better?
Yes! The line would have stations at every interchange along I-96, the trains would be built by Detroit auto manufacturers (of course), and the system would be designed to handle passengers, freight, and cars! The lines themselves would carry electricity, fiber optics, and hydrogen gas, allowing them to act like giant utility lines. Trains would travel at 200 mph.
Perhaps most astonishing of all, “fares could be 5 cents a mile.” That means a trip between Detroit and Lansing would cost… $4.50!
To put it mildly, this plan is completely ridiculous. Not only does little of the technology these entrepreneurs are advocating exist, but they’ve invented a financing system that seems to rely more on witchcraft than reality. The fact that Michigan’s legislators are taking this proposal seriously enough to consider it in a legislative session reaffirms my sense that the state is on the edge of complete collapse.
Image above: Interstate Traveler System, from Interstate Traveler Company