Rational Nation USA
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The high-speed rail program was one of the ways in which Obama sought to show that government is capable of doing big things, but thus far he has proved just the opposite.
Having high speed efficient rail is a dream come true, in Europe. Here in the USA we remain if not light years behind Europe certainly we are stuck in the technology of yesteryear. Perhaps this is because Europe simply sees more value in high speed rail, it is after all more efficient than the personal automobile. Maybe Europe is not so tied up in paradigms created through years of habit as the USA. I suspect if the American people wanted high speed efficient rail, and were willing to pay for it high speed rail service would become a reality in the USA.
High speed efficient rail service is extremely costly. While the ideal situation would be for private capital to build and operate a high speed rail system in America it is not practical due to regulatory constraints and therefore no private sector company, even if it had the capital would do so. As much as it pains me to say so for an endeavor of the magnitude of high speed rail service to ever become reality in the USA will require a a population desirous of it as well as one wiling to pay for it through taxation.
Europe has made it happen and Europeans are quite happy with their world class high speed rail system. America, being the exceptional nation we have become to believe we are ought to be able to out do the Europeans. Shouldn't we? Waiting to hear the sound of shattering paradigms...
Washington Examiner - Few of President Obama's initiatives are more emblematic of his early ambitions to be a transformational liberal leader than his vision for connecting the nation with a vast high-speed rail network.
The dream of building a system of bullet trains in the United States akin to what exists in Europe involves massive and sustained government spending, more money for unions, and promises to move the nation away from car-based transportation. Thus, it represents everything that excites American liberals.
Obama’s February 2009 economic stimulus package committed $8 billion to 79 projects spanning 31 states that were to lay the groundwork for “13 new, large-scale high-speed rail corridors across the country.”
In his 2011 State of the Union address, Obama touted high-speed rail as a central part of his plan for “winning the future.”
“Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail," Obama boasted. "This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying — without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already under way.”
As Americans’ assessment of Obama’s job performance turns increasingly negative, however, that vision is in shambles. And even the liberal New York Times is catching on.
In an article that appeared on the front page of the Times’ Thursday print edition, Ron Nixon wrote that “despite the administration spending nearly $11 billion since 2009 to develop faster passenger trains, the projects have gone mostly nowhere.”
Nixon noted that “Instead of putting the $11 billion directly into [high-speed rail] projects, critics say, the administration made the mistake of parceling out the money to upgrade existing Amtrak service, which will allow trains to go no faster than 110 miles per hour.”
Liberals often argue that America is well behind Europe when it comes to train travel, but having a vast rail system in the United States makes a lot less sense. Europe is much more densely populated and its major cities aren’t as spread out. Somebody who takes a train from Barcelona and Paris can easily get around once in Paris without a car – but that isn’t the case in Los Angeles.
When Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida were taken over by Republican governors during the 2010 wave election, they smartly declined the federal money – recognizing that the short-term injection of funds would impose massive long-term costs and obligations on the states.
The only place where high-speed rail would theoretically make sense is the Northeast Corridor that runs from Boston to Washington, D.C., but it would also be a prohibitively expensive project.
If the Northeast corridor is a theoretical sensible possibility so too it would seem a West coast system would be a theoretical sensible possibility. What it appears to be needed is a) national paradigm shifts, b) willingness to invest in the nation's infrastructure, c) a real desire for improved transportation at a reduced cost that positively impacts the environment, and d) a government with vastly improved efficiency and ability to set realistic priorities and goals.
What say you?
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