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Matthew E. Kahn

High-Speed Rail Can Solve Housing Shortages

One more reason the U.S. should not turn its back on fast trains.

Quick commute.

Quick commute.

Photographer: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

America’s most productive cities are notoriously short of housing. High home prices make it hard for people who aren’t inherently wealthy to afford to live in cities like Boston, New York, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. This problem is costly. The barrier to urban newcomers reduces total U.S. economic growth by 36 percent, recent research shows.

High-speed rail could help. That is, if America were more willing to embrace that form of transportation. Just this month, both the California governor and the U.S. president poured cold water on plans for a fast train from San Francisco to Los Angeles.