Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
I fail to understand your irrational hatred for the idea of a high speed rail system in California, as expressed in your column today, and in many of your editorials in the past. As you put it, “Obviously people who want to go from downtown Los Angeles to downtown San Francisco and vice versa - think corporate types and political animals - will see high speed rail as a viable and reasonably priced alternative.”
I am neither a “corporate type” nor a “political animal”. I have family in Southern California, and I have spent many long hours on the road over the years, traveling to visit them. Yes, of course, if you took the train you would have to rent a vehicle when you reached your destination. You have to do the same thing now if you fly.
Your argument that a train system which is projected to carry 100 million passengers a year from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2 1/2 hours for about $100 per person is somehow an “elitist” form of transportation is odd, to say the least. When you compare the cost of a high speed train ticket to the cost and time required to drive, or fly, or take the bus, or even go by Amtrak, high speed rail looks like a great deal to me.
In the year 2000, Californians made half a billion trips between the state’s various regions. The number of those trips is projected to double to 1 billion by 2030. Demands on our highway system and airports will only continue to grow as the state’s population and economy grow. High speed electric trains would eventually connect San Francisco and Sacramento to San Diego, and upgrade connecting rail systems already in existence, reducing air pollution in the Central Valley. The system is projected to reduce the state’s dependence on oil by 12.7 million barrels per year. Eleven countries around the world, including China, already have operating high speed rail systems. Are you telling me that the United States of America can’t do it?
The construction and maintenance of these trains, the rail systems, the 24 train terminals spread across the train’s route, and all of the ancillary projects involved in its development will create countless jobs over the decades, boost local economies, get more cars off the road and cut pollution in the Valley, as well as reducing the demand on air travel within our state. Some estimates project the creation of 600,000 construction jobs over the life of the project, and another 450,000 permanent jobs. That is considerably more than “ a reasonable amount of (short term) uptick” in the job picture, as you characterized it in your editorial, and precisely what the residents and the economy of the Central Valley need.
Yes, a world class, safe comfortable, environmentally sustainable alternative to automobile or air travel will be expensive to build, but going into the 21st century with no plan to meet the state’s mobility demands is not an option in my opinion.
Jan. 23, 2012