Imagine a world in say, 2028, when you could get on a high speed rail train in New York City, take a nap, read a book, be amused by your phone and be in Chicago 6 and a half hours later. That’s nearly twice as fast as by car, not much slower than a plane, given how much waiting you have to do at the airport. Or let’s say you’re on the West Coast. How about San Francisco to L.A. in about 2 and a half hours or to Seattle in 5 hours by high speed rail?
A map published by FirstCultural.com lets us dream of the possibilities, which will go mostly unrealized for now (though construction on California’s high speed rail line is underway).
What about the costs, though? High speed rail is fun to think about, but you don’t get something for nothing. According to FirstCultural.com, making this high speed rail map a reality over 30 years would mean building 667 miles a year at a cost of $40 billion a year, or 1.1% of the federal budget.
That’s a lot to spend, but it’s probably well worth it. It would modernize America’s infrastructure, get millions of cars off the road, reduce plane flights (which is something we really need to do to get serious about climate change), and provide a major economic stimulus. That $40 billion a year of spending would mostly stay in the country. The workers who built the high speed rail would have jobs for the foreseeable future, and the money they spent would help create new jobs.
Lastly, high speed rail would make America a better place to live and visit. We tend to take our massive highway system for granted, but that too was once an enormous and daunting public works project. Technology has improved and environmental realities have started to hit home. It’s time for a country-wide upgrade in transportation infrastructure, this one focused on high speed rail.