- It’ll save California about 82 billion compared to the “no-build” alternative: building 3,000 new lane-miles of freeway plus five new airport runways.
- It’s projected to turn a profit of almost 1 billion annually.
- The rest of the world is building HSR as fast as they can to stay economically competitive in the 21st century.
- It’ll save 16 billion lbs of CO2 from being expelled into the atmosphere annually – HSR is the most energy efficient major mode of medium & long distance transportation known to man.
- It will reduce our dependence on foreign oil by about 22 million barrels a year.
- 2hrs 30 minutes @ 220mph from downtown SF to downtown LA for $55 would be just awesome – mainly for business, but also for pleasure.
- The line will generate about 160k construction-related jobs right here right now, in California, providing a badly needed stimulus as our economy tanks.
- With proper land-use controls, we can use HSR to help funnel our growth into (more) human-scaled pedestrian-oriented sustainable development patterns.
- The Central Valley will experience an economic boom – suddenly being able to realistically commute daily to two of the largest job centers in the world.
- All of California can expect congestion relief by eliminating 30-40% of intra-California air passengers and taking 3.5-7.9% of the cars off I-5 and I-15.
- HSR is proven, off-the-shelf technology that has become the dominant medium-distance mode of transportation in varied environments around the world – including those with similar density, vehicle use, and income patterns to California – the most recent example being Spain.
No. These are all good reasons to support HSR in California – but this is not why California needs HSR. So why does California need High Speed Rail?
America needs an example. The potential of California HSR to stimulate powerful change on local, regional and national levels across the country outweighs all the direct benefits it will deliver to Californians.
We Americans (including Californians) lack the concept of functioning transit in our collective consciousness. Assuming you’re going farther than you can walk or bike, functioning transit is:
- The fastest way to get there.
- The most convenient way to get there.
- The most reliable way to get there.
- The cheapest way to get there.
- The most environmentally friendly way to get there.
How can functioning transit be the best at all these indicators? Because it scales. The addition of “one more rider” to a transit system lowers your cost per rider, increases demand for more frequent service to more destinations, decease your emissions per capita, and increases your farebox revenue. One more rider makes the system better.
If we rewind 50-70 years, all those indicators that now shine for transit previously shined for private automobile use and air travel in the United States. In those days before vehicle and air travel demand became congestion-limited, one more car on the road or one more passenger on the plane didn’t make it worse for everyone else. There was plenty of capacity. Rather, one more user of the system encouraged the system to grow to reach more destinations, with more direct routes and at higher speeds, thus increasing the quality of the system for everyone. Our parents and grandparents took advantage of this positive feedback system by pumping massive investment into our roads and airports, and we can largely thank that investment for our global economic dominance today.
Those days are over. They fell tumbling over their peak in the 1970’s, and for the last 30 years America has been holding on to the now-dead dream of the “open road”. For the 79% of us who live in urban America the “open road” has become the dirty, dangerous, slow freeway. While this has had the obvious effect of degrading our communities, our environment, and our heath – it has (IMHO, perhaps more importantly) had the “slow burn” effect of draining time, money and energy from the American worker.
In the congestion-limited domain, one more driver or one more air passenger makes the system worse.
Our competition “gets” this. HSR systems are going up around the world at a nearly exponential rate as costs drop and speeds increase. Americans don’t tend to travel outside their home country as much as most, and it often takes new ideas a little longer to penetrate our shell. Well, this is California’s opportunity to deliver one big shining wake-the-F-up to ourselves and the rest of the country. Petrol-powered transportation at 80mph in your own private 2,000 lb box of steel is a 20th century idea who’s day in the sun has come to a close.
Vote YES on Prop 1A. Keep America and California economically competitive in the 21st Century.