Depending on what report you read, California High Speed Rail is either well on track to start laying iron to soil, or is so mismanaged there is no possible way to succeed. No matter what side of the debate you fall upon, there are a few truths which need to be addressed. First, current rail travel is slow. So slow that Americans who took the first trips across the transcontinental railroad were moving quicker than we do today. Other countries who have adopted and embraced high speed rail in their urban corridors see increases in trade and commerce solely because of the mobility of the masses. Next, American’s do not want HSR. High Speed Rail referendums and bonds have passed overwhelmingly in states across the nation. Just like any public works project, it will cost money and may not be cheap; however, just like the aviation industry decades ago and the current boom in HSR in Asian and European countries, the benefits in mobility, accessibility, and commerce can be tremendous.
Citizens in Wisconsin and Ohio won’t be so lucky as their newly elected officials to return HSR funds to the White House. Instead of being an issue of innovation and progress, it has become an issue of rhetoric. Instead of being an issue of job creation and environmental responsibility, it has become an issue of the probability of outsourced jobs and the accessibility of high speed rail to urban populations.
Just like anything, High Speed Rail needs to be done correctly. Its plan must be sound and strategy effective. But let’s not hold it back because of political rhetoric. When it comes to reduced carbon emissions through air travel and compliance with our state’s goal of reducing those emissions, it’s a no brainer.