Proposed high-speed rail corridors c/o dot.gov
Florida has joined Ohio and Wisconsin in rejecting federal high-speed rail money. Fine, that will leave more funding for the rest of us who do want it. While the three of you sit in long traffic jams, breathe exhaust fumes, and keep living in the 20th century, the rest of us will move toward the future. That is, if we are smart and not short-sighted like these three states.
Automobiles and the auto culture cost our society huge amounts of money through taxes, subsides, and tolls. They also cause innumerable social, land use, and environmental problems.
Modern, high-speed trains would provide a fast, convenient, viable, competitive, and environmentally friendly alternative for intercity travel. Instead of driving between cities in legions of cars, riding in diesel-spewing buses, or driving to the airport and then logging more hours in waiting areas than the trip would have taken otherwise, high-speed rail would be an exciting and competitive option.
High-speed rail c/o treehugger.com
Anyone who has visited Europe or Japan knows trains are a terrific method of short to medium distance travel. In addition, the areas surrounding the stations see substantial economic growth and development. You can see this in miniature here in the United States near Metro stations in Greater Washington, along METRA commuter rail lines in Chicago, at BART stations in the Bay area, and even in conservative Texas at the DART stations in the Dallas area.
Here are a few examples of the economic benefits that have followed the completion of a high-speed rail link.
“Office space in the vicinity of high-speed rail stations in France and northern Europe generally fetches higher rents than in other parts of the same cities.
The city of Lyon experienced a 43 percent increase in the amount of office space near its high-speed rail station following the completion of a high-speed rail link to Paris.
Property values near stations on Japan’s Shinkansen network have been estimated to be 67 percent higher than property values further away.
Several cities have used high-speed rail as the catalyst for ambitious urban redevelopment efforts. The city of Lille, France, used its rail station as the core of a multi-use development that now accommodates 6,000 jobs. The new international high-speed rail terminal at London’s St. Pancras station is the centerpiece of a major redevelopment project that will add 1,800 residential units, as well as hotels, offices and cultural venues in the heart of London.”
As the following quote clearly demonstrates highways do NOT pay for themselves:
“In 2001, 41% of the $133 billion spent on highways came from payments other than the gas tax, tolls, and vehicle taxes and fees, as follows: 15.3% general fund appropriations; 9.5% bond issue proceeds; 5.8% investment income and other receipts; 5.6% other taxes and fees; 4.8% property taxes. While most of this is at the state and local levels, federal policy encourages this by offering states generous funding matches for highway investments but no match for intercity rail investments. These statistics are in ‘Improving Efficiency and Equity in Transportation Finance,’ by Martin Wachs [The Brookings Institution Series on Transportation Reform (April 2003)], which states: “Revenues from fuel taxes have for three decades been rising more slowly than program costs as legislators become ever more reluctant to raise them to meet inflation. As a result, the burden of raising the funds for transportation programs is gradually being shifted to local governments and voter-approved initiatives that are, in most instances, not based on user fees.”
Personally, I do not understand the decision made by conservative GOP governors in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Florida, other than they did not think of this great idea first. Many of the benefits I cited above are repeated in a 2001 report by the General Accounting Office. In fact, with the increase in gas and jet fuel prices since 2001, the benefits are even greater. But, these GOP governors apparently do not want to offer cost savings or environmental benefits to their citizens. They would rather remain forever stuck in traffic on a road to nowhere.
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