Romance of the Rails: Why the Passenger Trains We Love Are Not the Transportation We Need

(Cato Institute, October 2018)

Book Forum
October 10, 2018
11:30AM to 1:30PM EDT
Hayek Auditorium, Cato Institute
Featuring the author Randal O’Toole, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute; with comments by Art Guzzetti, Vice President of Policy, American Public Transportation Association; Jim Mathews, President, Rail Passengers Association; and Marc Scribner, Senior Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute; moderated by Jason Kuznicki, Editor, Cato Institute.

Like many Americans, Randal O’Toole loves passenger trains, yet he acknowledges that intercity passenger trains and — outside of the New York region — urban rail transit play little role in American life today. The replacement of passenger trains with cars, buses, and airplanes is similar to many other recent technological replacements: word processors replacing typewriters, calculators replacing slide rules, telephones replacing telegraphs, and cell phones replacing land lines. However, only for passenger trains has the government spent billions of dollars a year attempting to turn back the clock and slow that replacement. O’Toole’s book Romance of the Rails asks why this is so and whether passenger rail has a significant role to play in the future. Art Guzzetti, an advocate for urban rail transit; Jim Mathews, an advocate for intercity passenger trains; and Marc Scribner, an advocate for free-market transportation, will offer their comments on the book.