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California’s High Speed Train Arriving Soon?

March 25th, 2010 · No Comments · environment, Green, san francisco, Transportation, Travel News

High Speed Train - San Francisco to Los Angeles

High Speed Train - San Francisco to Los Angeles

The drive between San Francisco and Los Angeles can be draining. The drive can take anywhere from 5-9 hours depending on what type of traffic you hit along the way (and where in Los Angeles you’re heading). For the most part, the scenery along this drive is boring. Sure, there are some pretty hills but five or more hours is a long time to look at the same hills. You do have the option of taking the scenic route along the coastline but then you double the amount of time that it takes you to get between these two great cities. Imagine if you could make this trip in less than three hours without having to drive yourself. And what if it would cost you less than it costs to fly or drive between the two cities? That’s exactly what could happen in the future with the development of the new High Speed Rail connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Overview of the California High Speed Rail Authority Project

The project that is going to make this happen is called the California High Speed Rail Authority Project (CHSRA). It is a project that has received billions of dollars in funding so far with the purpose to be building a high-speed train that would connect the San Francisco Bay Area with the city of Los Angeles. Currently the project is in the planning stage. However, construction is expected to begin in 2011. It is believed that the project will take about 8-11 years to complete before it becomes a functional train that riders can use. Once in place, the train ride between the two cities should last approximately two-and-a-half hours and should cost approximately $40 – $55, which is less than the cost of driving in many vehicles.

Reasons People Love this Project

Many people are very excited about the development of the high speed train option. Some of the reasons that people love this project include:

  • Quick commute between the two cities. The biggest benefit of the high speed train is that it would make the trip between Los Angeles and San Francisco much faster. This would be a great benefit to residents of either city who would be able to easily visit the other city for the weekend or even the day. People who are interested in living in one city but commuting to the other would potentially have that option whereas they don’t have that choice now.
  • Better tourism. The fact that the commute between these two cities would be so short also has the potential to improve tourism in both areas. Many people would love to visit both cities but don’t want to take the time to travel from one to the other and back again during their vacation. The high speed train would be a fun, quick, affordable option, which means that people visiting one area would also likely visit the other.
  • Enjoying the scenery. As mentioned before, the scenery between Los Angeles and San Francisco consists of pretty hills but they’re not too fun to enjoy for hours and hours in a car. In contrast, you could look out a high speed train window for a couple of hours and really enjoy this view.
  • Green choice. Many people are excited about this project because it’s a green travel option for people who want to go between these two cities. It’s obviously a lot better for the earth for people to all be on a single train together than to be in their separate cars commuting between these two large cities. High speed trains are also more energy-efficient than planes.
  • It’s what many other cities offer. High speed trains are used in Asia and Europe. In fact, a recent project will connect these two long-distance areas by high speed train. Adding a high speed train to the United States between these two major California cities would help to put us on par with international travel standards.
  • The project creates jobs. In addition to the benefits for travelers, the project will benefit California residents by creating over 150,000 construction jobs over the next ten years. The project will also create long-term jobs.
  • The people want it. Finally, people are supportive of this project because their friends and neighbors are supportive of it. In 2008, California voters agreed through Prop 1A that they wanted to spend nearly $10 billion in state money on this project.

Complaints People Have About this Project

Not everyone is supportive of this project. Even people who do like the idea of it have some concerns and complaints about the way that it’s been planned. Some of the complaints that people have about this project include:

  • It’s very expensive. A 2008 report called The California High Speed Rail Proposal: A Due Diligence Report estimates that this project could cost more than $80 billion! That’s a lot of money. The project may cost less than this but it will still cost many billions of dollars, which will be paid in large part by the taxpayers. Not everyone is supportive of the project for this reason even though it does have the potential to increase tourism income in the state. One argument against this concern is that we have to do something to handle the influx of traffic in the state and this option isn’t any more expensive (and may even be more profitable) than building new airports or highways.
  • Concerns that people won’t ride it. Many people are concerned that the train won’t get the type of use out of it that it needs to justify its cost. The Rail Authority has predicted that over 60 million people will use it annually by 2030 but the same Due Diligence report says it may only be a third of that.
  • The train isn’t ready yet. There is currently no high speed train in existence that reaches the speed of 220 mph that is the project’s goal and yet also meet’s the safety standards of the project. Many people are concerned that this just isn’t going to be a reality.
  • Some people are afraid of high speed trains. Although these trains are used in other parts of the world, not all U.S. residents are used to them. The idea of being on a train that travels at over 200 mph still frightens some people. In actuality, it is probably a lot safer to travel in a high speed train than in a car on California highways but this fear does still deter people from considering this to be a viable option for traveling between cities.

Imagining the Future

This high speed train between San Francisco and Los Angeles is in the works. Construction should begin next year. Although the ten or so years that it takes for the project to be completed sounds like a really long time, it’s going to go by in the blink of an eye. When it is ready, this high speed train is going to provide a cost-effective, green transportation option for people who wish to travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Imagine getting on the train in San Francisco, reading a book or taking a nap or checking out the scenery for a couple of hours and then arriving in Los Angeles. That is going to be our future!

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