High-speed rail helps students, state

Los Angeles to San Francisco in two hours and 40 minutes; no plane ticket necessary. It sounds like a fantasy to the Bay Area student, whose only transportation alternative to an airplane is a six hour drive up the coast — and that’s without hitting L.A. traffic.

Kate Mock | Daily Trojan


But this fantasy might come true within the next few years, if the California High-Speed Rail Authority gets its way. The plan is to construct an electrically powered high-speed train system that traverses the trans-state route.

Unfortunately, many members of the state legislature plan to halt the plan’s progress. Republican state senators have united in opposition, and they have been joined by three Democrats.

These legislators must not ignore the will of the people.

If the system is built successfully, the project will represent a victory not only for the state of California, but also for the countless number of USC students who will benefit from it.

Plane tickets are expensive and airports are a hassle. Driving  can take away up to 12 hours of vacation time, and can be costlier than flying, especially if the itinerary includes renting a vehicle.

A train moving at 220 mph, however, has real potential. It offers USC students traveling home to the Bay Area much more flexibility.

And for anyone who needs a weekend trip to San Francisco, it provides a quick and reliable way to get there and eliminates concerns about finding parking.

Trains also provide a less stressful mode of transportation. On the tracks, there is no freeway construction or runway traffic. Comfortable seating, bathrooms, food and the lack of traditional airport security make train journeys even more appealing.

According to the Rail Authority, the ambitious project will create approximately 100,000 construction jobs each year the system is being built. Upon its completion, the rail’s operation and maintenance will create thousands more.

Businesses, restaurants and suppliers along the route should see an increase in clientele, expanding the need for employees even further.

The train also provides California with an opportunity for economic expansion in general. It would improve California’s infrastructure considerably, providing for the well-organized movement of people, goods and services. Corporate and government employees making frequent trips between California’s major metropolitan hubs would find the train convenient, increasing the efficiency of work-based travel.

The project does its duty for the environment too. The train’s electric power would be produced by sustainable resources, such as wind and solar power. These resources would help reduce the state’s chronic smog and air pollution. Greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on foreign oil would see similar decreases, as more people will choose the train over planes and automobiles.

High-speed rail systems worldwide have traditionally seen incredible success, from the TGV network in France to Japan’s Bullet Train. In both cases, revenues exceed operational costs. Traditionally, such systems are a sign of progress and adaptation in the modern world.

Some Californians have opposed the project due to the potential of having to move. But though the train will inconvenience some people, on a whole, the sacrifice is worth it.

Implementing one here would make California a national leader in transportation technology, infrastructure development and environmental initiative. And it would make our state a leader in satisfied citizenry as well.


Francesca Bessey is a freshman majoring in narrative studies. 

4 replies
  1. Miguel
    Miguel says:

    I completely agree with this article because its true! The only people that disagree are people who’s interests will be hit (for than likely financial interests) by the building out of this project.
    We NEED it just as much as we NEED freeways and airports…

    William, your argument is tired and flowed… Give it up already…

  2. William
    William says:

    “Trojan” perfect you’re living in a rubber. Ignore the facts particularly if they run contrary to your argument: 1) As this thing has progressed it has become far more costly than the “people” were lead to believe and what those “people” authorized, so the “people” are increasingly unhappy with their decision2) It has become increasingly likely that, contrary to your prophylactic perspective, this won’t be cheap tickets unless it is heavily subsidized, 3) Further that it is not likely to be profitable or will even be able to meet its own operating costs even if the fares reflect the actual costs, 4) The 100,000 jobs are a fantasy and most of the jobs that are created won’t be here and of those that are here a large portion will be filled by workers from elsewhere, so its not likely to have a significant impact on CA unemployment, 5) It does not eliminate parking, how do you get to the damn thing, walk? You make this seem that is a panacea for all of California woes, far from that the drain on our economy will add to the problems we already face. 6) This thing would have been great ½ a century ago, back when “people” like me started asking for it. This is when the systems in Europe and Japan were being constructed, but, as cool as I think these things are, I’m willing to say they aren’t the future, time and technology moved on. It is likely that by the time this elephant is born it will be glowing white and obsolete. Technologies like automated driving, continuous recharging, and high speed electric powered cars and busses could quite easily provide a door-to-door service for a fraction of the cost and with much greater convenience, and efficiency, and that can directly reduce parking and traffic issues.These technologies, while nascent, are developing rapidly and could be integrated into the current system at far less cost and much more quickly than the million pound bullets. In fact the 100+ Billion dollars that the rail project will ultimately cost, just to get it up and running, would be best spent; helping to develop those technologies, upgrading, integrating, and modernizing our current mass transit system so that they really work and that includes air transport, ports, and highway systems. What’s more, if the development programs were centered at subsidized R&D zones in the central valley that would boost local long term employment. In fact using the money for all of these programs and projects would increase jobs, provide real short and long term benefit to all the citizens of California and mean that “students” would have a much better chance of landing a real job in their chosen profession, jobs that would have a future. The only rail project that might have real legs and longevity in California, is a system to connect Los Angeles to Las Vegas and that would work only if the Nevada Nancy (Reid) could get the casino and hotel owners to pony up a substantial share of the actual construction cost. You’ll hear “experts” say that we can’t use the money for this because it’s earmarked and therefore we must build the HSR or lose the money, BS the fact is this is only legislation it can be changed far easier than getting the money back once we’ve converted it to concrete and sent it to Germany. By the way I’m a liberal and a Democrat.

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