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.
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.