Obama unveils a plan to add an additional $5 Billion to fund high speed rail in the US [on top of the $8 Billion in the stimulus]. The message here? “Imagine an America that has the technology that Europe and Japan have had for something like 15 or 20 years”.
Bringing the United States into the late 20th century through infrastructure!
Seriously, though – this could be really exciting. Working to ‘undo’ what the mid 20th century did to mass transit is a noble cause – bringing our transit systems [on a national scale] up to date is a great project to undertake, especially when the auto companies are too broke to con us into buying buses or something instead. The real issue that I see here is funding the system after it’s built. We have the ‘T’ here in Boston – and the ‘commuter rail’ extending to the ‘burbs – but now with money tight [and beauracratic / legislative bullshit running rampant] they’re reducing the number of trains and cutting services even though ridership is at an all-time high.
The problems we’re having in MA got me thinking that Obama’s plan could make a significant difference to transit as a whole, by providing connections to rural areas. The ‘T’ is having funding issues, and the proposed solution [a gas tax increase] has been shot down in the legislature by the Western parts of the state – they feel they shouldn’t pay for services they don’t receive. While I’d argue they receive services that don’t benefit the cities, the fact is that connecting these rural areas to the transit system could serve to ease their feeling ‘left out’ – and encourage more taxpayers to ‘get on board’, so to speak, with transit funding.
My only question is: who is Obama referring to in the video, who says ‘this won’t work’? The plan i expensive, yes – but other than the cost, this isn’t a ‘big deal’. This isn’t rocket science here people – and we’re not setting any trends. We can look to Europe as a successful model, and go from there. We have the workers and the technology to lay the tracks and build the trains – and people will obviously ride trains if they’re running [mass transit numbers are up in just about every city, aren’t they?]. People love cars because they’ve been told to love them – and because they’re convenient. If we give them convenient trains – that create systems with similar [if not shorter] commutes that put passengers within a few blocks of their destination – people are going to love it.
Now we just need to find the Robert Moses of high speed rail [not really – that would be terrible].
Posted: April 16th, 2009
at 6:25pm by orangemenace
Comments: 4 comments