High speed rail: a viable transportation system for California

Right now, some of your friends and neighbors are stuck in a slow moving traffic jam on a California freeway. As they creep along they think of how their travel seems to become worse with each passing day. Now, move ahead a few years and think of your friends and neighbors traveling on a business trip, or to visit family, on a high-speed train. They would be zooming past any traffic jams or accidents, at over 200 miles per hour, and nor would they be delayed at the airport due to a foggy day.

This state-of-the-art technology is not far from becoming a reality in our state. We now have the opportunity to build a high-speed rail system to ensure Californians have a 21st century, inter-modal system of transportation that will meet our transportation needs in California.

California saw unparalleled growth over the last sixty years, and we are now projected to have a state population of 50 million by 2030. Throughout this population explosion, the state expanded the freeway system and built new airports, but rail did not see the expansion and improvements that road and air travel did in the United States. Today, California has an opportunity to be a national leader in transportation by constructing an inter-modal high-speed rail system which would significantly enhance, and therefore improve our roads and airports. This system will improve mobility throughout the state in a way that is fast, safe, and convenient.
Congress has begun to take action to help make the idea of high-speed rail in California a reality. Two bills I introduced, HR 4122 the American Investment in Safe, Reliable High Speed Rail Act and HR 4123, the High-Speed Rail Authority Development and Formation Act, will help bring federal dollars to California to invest in the proposed high-speed rail system. The Senate also passed S. 294, which will help high-speed rail development in America. As these bills move through the legislative process, I will work with the California delegation, along with the rest of our colleagues, to support high speed rail development.

Federal legislation is only one step in the process to develop high-speed rail in California. Voters need to approve the high-speed rail bond on the ballot this November, and the state will need to allow private enterprise to invest in the system. High-speed rail is a modern solution to California's transportation needs, and dismissing it as a pipe dream, or as romantic concept, will only lead to continued congestion on our roads and delays in our skies. State and federal funding, along with public-private partnerships, will make high-speed rail a reality.

Our friends in Europe and Japan have had great successes with their high-speed rail systems, not only for business, but for travel as well. Europe and Japan will soon have over 10,000 miles of high-speed rail connecting all of the major metropolitan areas for business or travel purposes. A high-speed rail system in California will not only ease inner-state travel, but also improve our air quality.

The short-term and long-term economic impacts of a high-speed rail system would be tremendous for California's economy. Construction of the system is estimated to generate almost 300,000 jobs. Following construction, the system will provide 450,000 permanent jobs in California. These jobs will have a huge ripple effect into other areas of California's economy, such as the service and manufacturing industries. Overall, for every dollar invested in this system, we will see two dollars in return.

Any Californian who travels more than fifty miles to work, or who travels for pleasure will tell you they would love a headache and traffic-free route to their destination. Whether flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco, driving back and forth from the Inland Empire to San Diego, or commuting from the Central Valley to the Bay Area, drive and fly times can total four or five hours of travel time. High speed rail can not only cut these travel times significantly, but ease the grind of congestion Californians have while traveling in-state by car or air.

California has been a national innovator, and we are leading the way on high-speed rail development. If we continue to act boldly, I believe that it will not be long until Californians will be moving throughout the state at 200 miles per hour. This system will have tremendous economic stimulation for our economy, and connect over 80% of our state's population with fast, clean, safe, reliable high-speed rail.

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