Monday, February 01, 2010

Investment, Not Spending

If you are at all not sure about the concept of High Speed Rail, please please please read this post from the California High Speed Rail Blog's Robert Cruickshank.

I do want to share a couple of key points that Cruickshank makes that I think are really great.

  1. Things in our country and specifically the state of California must change. The status quo is not acceptable, and as Americans we shouldn't be content on settling for the same old same old. We cannot stay reliant on gasoline and oil for much longer. Prices are going to continue to raise, and it's going to be harder and harder for people to drive everywhere and anywhere.
  2. "Every HSR system around the world generates operating surpluses (including Amtrak's Acela) and are highly popular with riders." I really dislike it when people think that High Speed Rail will become some sort of political boondoggle when it has been successful throughout the world.
  3. People in the US aren't so different from people in other countries around the world. The misconception of American's exceptionalism is a worldwide issue, because a lot of people in the United States think Americans are different and a lot of people in other countries think the same thing. People think that just because High Speed Rail works in every other country, does not necessarily mean that it can work in the USA. Its true that the US has been very dependent on cars in the last 4 or 5 decades, but I think one of the reasons rail and other sustainable transportation practices have not become as popular here is a lack of options. I have met very few Americans that haven't enjoyed riding trains when given the opportunity. We're all just people, and while there are definite differences between countries and cultures I don't believe there are that many differences between people.
  4. We Americans are not permanently "wedded to our cars." At cheap gasoline prices (even current prices in Fresno, at about $3 per gallon) cars are easy to rely on. When gas prices head closer to $10 per gallon, like many places in Europe, there will be little choice but to ditch our cars and rely on environmentally friendly options such as mass and public transit. It is more the oil subsidies that are creating a reliance on cars than cars themselves.
  5. If High Speed Rail is not built in California it will require the expansion of highways, freeways, airports, etc. with costs much higher than the cost of HSR. It's also important to note that highways don't pay for themselves in this country, and we are one of the heaviest users of automobiles.
If you aren't convinced about the importance of High Speed Rail, what are your reasons?

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