Compared to most other industrialized countries, the rail infrastructure system in the United States is only in its most stunted infancy.
President Obama’s stimulus package, however, is now going to help bring our nation’s transit system into the 21st century. Nine billion dollars has been allocated over the next five years to begin building a faster and cleaner high speed rail network that will not only provide many needed jobs, but will also give us more sustainable transit options and help to make us more competitive internationally.
High Speed Rail Investment Helps Stimulate and Green Our Economy
Our country’s economic growth has been suffering, in part, due to a continued lack of investment in an interconnected well-designed high speed rail network. Trains can transport people and freight far more efficiently than polluting cars and trucks. President Obama is quoted in the New York Times stating that:
“What we need, then, is a smart transportation system equal to the needs of the 21st century, a system that reduces travel times and increases mobility, a system that reduces congestion and boosts productivity, a system that reduces destructive emissions and creates jobs.”
Sustained and intelligent investment in rail infrastructure can help us to improve our air quality, fight global warming and positively transform how we live.
“Imagine whisking through towns at speeds over 100 miles an hour, walking only a few steps to public transportation, and ending up just blocks from your destination. It is happening right now, it’s been happening for decades. The problem is, it’s been happening elsewhere, not here.”
Our government has identified ten travel corridors which will receive this initial rail infrastructure investment. They are located in New England, New York State, Pennsylvania, a southeast network connecting the District of Columbia to Florida and the Gulf Coast, a route from eastern Texas to western Alabama, central and southern Florida, a Texas-to-Oklahoma line, a Pacific Northwest route, and a California corridor, which has already been approved by voters, that will allow travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles in just over two hours.
It is absolutely necessary for our country to have a functional high speed rail network to be able to exist and compete in the global economy. In recent years public transit ridership has skyrocketed, and the internal combustion engine is quickly becoming a tired relic of the 20th century. And though, comparatively, this initial rail infrastructure investment is tiny, it is definitely a small step in the right direction to begin building a more sustainable vital future.