Although I think $8 billion is not enough money (China is spending about $400 billion on their system), I’m very excited about the prospect of high-speed rail in the U.S., honestly. And it’s not the prospect of green jobs that particularly interests me, although breathing clean air does rule. Instead, it’s the improvements in infrastructure I am most excited about. In many countries there’s a so-called “core-periphery” model employed, where central city centers get too much attention and the periphery not enough. In the U.S., we have the exact opposite where we have bridges and roads extending into pretty much nowhere. This is a much needed step to improving intercity travel. This is, however, somewhat of a problem when you consider what local public transportation is like (i.e. getting to and from high-speed rail stations). Some cities have great local public transportation, others do not.
Don’t get me wrong, I think our road systems is one of America’s great strengths, but obviously we need something else. Transportation solutions don’t always lie in focusing on one mode. Good transportation should consider the right tools for the job, and for medium distance travel high speed trains could do it just as fast for a fraction of the fuel cost while relieving congested highways. In VA, it’s hard to get from where I live to VA or DC without experiencing some sort of awful traffic jam and gas is pretty expensive.
What do you guys think of the new plans for high-speed rail in the U.S.? Do you think $8 billion is enough money to develop a highly dedicated system or do you think it’s too little too late? What do you guys think of the prospect of getting people to work on these systems, is it a good investment of capital and resources? The manufacturing sector should get a boost, at least.
Here is a link to the blog of Ray Lahood, the U.S. secretary of transportation: