As High Speed Rail Falters, Right Wing Pounces

Central Valley right wing radio is ablaze with Kill High Speed Rail Fever. And once again, the great project may fail, and California sink harder into decline from its once shimmering Progressive promise as America’s “first in nation” state. The Valley needs to be included in that California, and Californians need to step up and put down this backwater revolt brewing in its economically depressed Central Valley.
Topping the list of why High Speed rail is wrong, is it is publicly funded.
Magical private industry funding for everything won’t get you what you want. Sometimes, you have to rely on *shudder!* PUBLIC funding – funding created by taxes we pay. That’s how we will get speed trains whisking us to and from SF and LA in an hour with service every 20 minutes.
Next is this classic fear… it will be wasted money.
It will not catch on they scream. People will stick to travel by auto because of sprawl. Trains are for the centrally located, not those who live in suburbia. Trains can only get you to a station, but then what.
That’s a problem on the Fresno end, and at this time (things change), but in SF, most anywhere a Fresnan would want to go TODAY is near one of their BART, Muni or CalTrain stations. But service to beach towns like Santa Cruz would require service expansion of some sort, like the Seattle area’s Sound Transit. I won’t even suggest taking buses. Nobody likes riding buses!
Mass transit travel is has its advantages, mainly what you’re missing out on by using autos: unexpected breakdowns, accidents, tickets and citations, theft, drowsiness, gasoline, road rage, road noise and 3 times as much transit time. Auto transit has advantages, mainly that you are in your own little bubble – not out in public. Traveling by mass transit people are in public the whole time, and could get pickpocketed by predatory strangers, annoyed by interlopers or hassled by authorities, kids could run off, chairs can be dirty, tickets lost. No form of travel is trouble-free. But make mass transit faster than auto transit, like with Speed trains, and the advantage goes back to the mass kind.
But the transition to taking advantage of super-fast and easy access mass transit, like speed trains, will be gradual.
Downtown areas near speed train terminals will become more attractive for business and residences. But even for those who stay in the suburbs, in many cases, mass transit will serve just the main part of the journey, with personal transport being used to get people to their own garages. For somebody like me, that has great appeal. Currently, I like to park at BART stations in good neighborhoods in the outer Bay Area (Orinda, Fremont, Walnut Creek) and ride into San Francisco, then take a cab or walk to the Hotel. With a speed train, I can cut out the 3 hour drive to that parking lot, park instead here in Fresno.
But the huge benefit will be for international and cross-nation travelers from fresno. The speed train is an hour long ride to SFO, the San Francisco International Airport, making having to actually drive all the way there a thing of the past! FYI works getting to SFO as well, but everybody knows their commuter turbo-prop hops are too expensive, they always lose luggage, you have to book tickets days in advance to save. Speed trains are easy – you go to the station and hop on a train. Ironically, the speed train going in will make FYI’s commuter planes a hell of a lot cheaper, the service more frequent, and Fresnans as a result will become a lot more mobile, because they can. Possibly the FYI could go out of business, but I doubt it. A more mobile Fresno population may kill the argument for saving the environment by installing speed trains, because traveling increases will actually increase greenhouse gasses, but speed trains are not about saving the environment. They’re about being able to travel!
By the way, speed trains emit no smog.

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