The Instigator
Pro (for)
5 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
8 Points

High-speed rail should receive federal government subsidy in-place of current subsidies on highways

Do you like this debate?NoYes-2
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/24/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,668 times Debate No: 23838
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (0)
Votes (2)




My belief is that federal government subsidies on high-speed rail would benefit the United States greater than the continual subsidy of the current highway system.

The first round is acceptance, the second is stating your argument, third round attempt to dispute claims made by the opponent in second round. I lowered the max number of characters to keep arguments concise.

I look forward to a good debate, good luck.


I accept.
Debate Round No. 1


1. The amount of money in government subsidies the U.S. spends on highways annually is around $160 billion.

2. The first rail line that should be built would run from the east coast to the west coast as to make transportation most efficient totaling in around 3,000 miles of track, 4,000 at most. This is more of a statement as to how to make high-speed rail most efficient rather than a backing its validity but i felt it necessary to include.

3. High speed rail in Europe currently costs around 40 cents per passenger mile. So one full length trip cross country would cost $1600 meaning using just the $160 billion in subsidies on highways there could be 100 million cross country trips per year and this doesn't include the revenue from ticket sales.

4. Since high-speed rail is extremely fuel efficient ( the united states would use significantly less oil. The reduced demand would keep the price of oil low.

5. High speed rail is a fast form of transportation compared to a car and it would be far cheaper than taking a plane. For anyone who has taken a train they are much more comfortable than the other two main forms of cross-country transportation.

6. (
This blog refers to high speed rail in the UK but the important idea that the blog is based on is that high speed rail has already had great success economically in Europe, so why would a similar system not work here?

7. Railways are extremely safe, especially high speed rail. Railways are the second safest mode of transportation next to airplanes and high speed rail is right on track with airplanes. Remember that devastating 9.0 level earthquake and those tsunamis that destroyed large pieces of Japan's infrastructure? Do you know what wasn't damaged? The Japanese high speed rail system.

8. As far as business is concerned high speed rail allows people to be most efficient while traveling. Work can be done while traveling since there is appropriate room on a train to do so, even conference rooms on some. The time you save in commute also allows for more time at work and quicker returns home. On a train you are afforded the luxury of full internet access and cellular access too.



C1. This money is needed to upkeep the nations massive highway system. There was 47,182 miles of Interstate as of 2010 [].

As of 2007 there were 254 million registered passenger vehicles in the United States []

You cannot take away the Interstate subsidies because then the highway system would deteriorate to a dangerous level. Rail will never replace the car as the main mode of transportation so taking away federal money from the main mode of transportation and sticking it into a minority secondary is foolish. Without subsidy money the federal highway system would become dangerous for the 200+ million cars in the United States.

C2. First of all your estimates about track distance are false. If you laid one track from one East Coast city to one West Coast city it would be 3000 miles. If you want to create a network, NY to Miami to Dallas to LA to Chicago it's going to take A LOT more track than you're estimating. Also, you'll need switches, loops, rail yards and off shoots to run the system. Your estimate is dreadfully low. It's 2500 miles from NY to LA [] alone without any of the other stuff that goes into running a high speed rail line.

C3. The United States is not Europe. Also, no one is going to pay $1600 to go across the country when you can find air fare for a third of that price for a third of the time. Flying will remain the main source of cross country travel. Drivers who need to go intermediate distances or short distances will continue to use their cars and the Interstate leaving high speed rail in an awkward position where it doesn't fill the demand for long or short distance travel.

C4. High speed rail would only decrease oil use if the demand and use of cars decreased at a massive rate to include high speed rail but this is not the case. High speed rail would do little to dent the demand and use of gas by automobile traffic.

C5. It would not be a cheaper mode of transportation. You said yourself, cross country train travel would be $1600. Air fare from NY to LA is starting around $500. [] Obviously your claim is false. Trains are in fact more expensive. Also, comfort is no way to judge what gets federal subsidy money.

C6. The United States is not Europe. Britain is roughly the size of Florida. They can take the train from one end of the country to the other in a single day. The United States is the size of Europe (about) and we are much more spread out than they are. Also, driving is a part of the culture in the US. People won't give up their freedom and their cars in place of a train. It's not the American way.

C7. And airplanes are safer than trains. So why don't we all switch to flying EVERYWHERE based on safety alone? Just because its safe doesn't mean its a viable source of mass transit. Boats are safer than cars. Why don't you sail around the US instead of drive? Also, if you take money away from highway upkeep, safety will decrease for cars due to poor road conditions which would easily cancel out the safety boost from trains.

C8. You can also work on a plane. Businessmen will not trade flying (which takes roughly half a day to go cross country) in place of the more expensive and far slower train. It just won't happen. Also, airplanes now offer Wi-Fi and cell service on certain flights. The time trade off is just not worth it for businessmen.

My opponent (who holds the Burden of Proof) has failed to give viable reasons for taking money away from the Interstate system and giving it to high speed rail. Car is by far the most popular form of transit in the US and taking money away from that to give to an untested an unpopular mode is folly.
Debate Round No. 2


First off I would like to begin by saying that you conceded defeat when you broke the rules that you agreed to in round one by disputing my claims in the second round, that is what this round is for. Also, wikipedia is not an acceptable source material last time I checked.

1. I suggested taking money away from highway subsidies, the plan would be to phase out miles of unnecessary highway and take away money that lowers the price of oil (which is where most highway subsidy lies) and supports an unreasonably unsustainable lifestyle for most Americans.

2. The track I am referring to laying WOULD be around 4000 miles if you go from New York through Chicago through St. Louis through Denver through LA hitting many major cities, for shorter distance travel the best way to go would be to use existing rail lines to go north and south.

3. If you understood at all what a subsidy is or what a passenger mile is then you would understand that the $1600 is not for each passenger and passenger tickets worldwide average around $200-$400 American for a trip of this distance. Last time I checked you can't get a cross country flight for $200...

4. A cross country train ride at an average of 90 miles per hour (very low average speed for high speed rail) would take under two days and at a speed of 150 miles per hour the trip would take just over a day. Not unreasonable when you consider many people make that trip by car at much lower speeds on roundabout interstate systems.

5. You're claims are wildly false since you failed to comprehend any of my claims. Trains ARE cheaper, they are only slight slower than planes, and the sustainability of trains DO make them worthy of subsidy (if anything is).

Let's recap why you should side with me, my opponent broke the rules agreed to in round 1, he didn't use any valid sources, and he made false arguments.


"Also, wikipedia is not an acceptable source material last time I checked." - Wikipedia is an accepted source by many if not all members of DDO. Unless specifically set out beforehand Wikipedia is an acceptable source. I will debate you on the claim that it is not an acceptable source. Also, you had no sources. I wouldn't harp on my source since you had none of your own.

As for my refutations, I apologize I did not remember at the point of posting my argument that we weren't supposed to refute until Round Three. However, I did post legitimate arguments of my own that coincided with my refutations. I did not concede the debate but made points based around refuting your arguments. I don't think it matters what we refute or when but I will let the voters decide if I was in the wrong. Otherwise, your opening merely sounds whiny and defensive.

C1. American driving culture is not unreasonable or unsustainable. If it was, it wouldn't be a big facet of American life. Also, you still have not responded to what I said about the fact that taking this money away would damage the safety of major road ways. Highways like I-95, I-10 and I-75 have thousands of drivers a day, not to mention the trucking industry which is completely reliant on the highway system. Taking money away from highways is just not an option.

C2. You cannot use existing rail lines for high speed rail. They need to be a special kind of rail that are built of entirely light weight steel and have few turns or corners. You can't just use existing rail. Also, that would disrupt regular rail traffic already existing. Again, your claim for 4,000 miles of track constitutes ONE RAIL LINE. One line only. You're arguing for taking away highway money to build a single line?

C3. You can fly across the country for $450, I sourced this in my last round. This is roughly the same price as your average ticket price but you'll get there WAY sooner by plane.

C4. Yes but that is with absolutely NO STOPS. Trains stop quite frequently. If you averaged say ten stops from NY to LA for about 30 minutes each you've already added 5 hours to your trip time. That is the time it takes to fly cross country in train stops alone.

C5. This isn't an argument, it's an attack with no facts, sources or points so I am going to ignore it.

My arguments were 100% legitimate. I actually used sources. I apologize for breaching the rules from Round One because I honestly forgot. In a 3 Round debate you don't usually hold off contentions until Round 3 especially since Pro has the BOP. I will let the voters decide that.
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by tyler90az 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:33 
Reasons for voting decision: ConervativePolitico negated every argument you made. However, he did not have better sources and loses a conduct point for starting early.
Vote Placed by seraine 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:25 
Reasons for voting decision: Arguments and sources were pretty obvious. I'm giving 2 points to Pro because Con breached the rule about only posting arguments in round 2.