Two weekends ago, I took the Amtrak train from Baltimore to Washington DC. The trip only took about 30 minutes, but as I watched the landscape crawl by it made me wonder why high speed rail hasn't been seriously invested in yet in the U.S., especially between major cities on the coasts.
Even though I grew up in the rural midwest, where everyone owns cars because their just isn't an economic support base for reliable public transportation, as I have spent time living in the metro Washington DC area I've seen plenty of people relying on public transportation.
So here's a thought, if people are willing to by plane tickets to fly from DC to Baltimore, why wouldn't they by high speed train tickets?
So it was with a renewed sadness, that I read this article on the CNN Politics website.
Here is how the article opens.
President Barack Obama's plan for a national high-speed rail network suffered a serious setback as a result of the fight over budget cuts. No money will be allocated for high-speed rail projects for the remainder of 2011.
Supporters have pointed to the plan as a job creator and economy booster, while critics have expressed doubts about whether spending billions of dollars on high-speed rail is the best use of federal funds.
Overall, this article is written well. It clearly explains why federal funding for high speed rail has hit a road block. Even though it might create more jobs, the initial cost is too much, especially with the sluggish economy and the deficit trouble the government continues to face.
This article makes it clear, that if the American people are going to leave the majority of funding for high speed rail up to the government, it isn't going to happen for a while.
Here is the key.
Obama's vision for a national high-speed rail network took some hits even before it became a part of budget negotiations in Congress. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood redirected high-speed rail funds away from Wisconsin and Ohio after both Republican governors said they would oppose projects in their states.
And higher up in the article some key details and a key quote by Petra Tedorovich, an advocate for high speed rail.
The cuts will not affect projects already under way across the United States, according to DOT officials. Projects that have been awarded grants will keep their funding. But that's not to say that there aren't concerns about future funding.
"It's always worrisome when an important infrastructure initiative becomes politicized," Todorovich said. "It's a big setback."
The article also explains that investors in California are hoping to raise 50 billion for high speed rail. So far they've raised 3 billion. The majority of the rest they were hoping to get from the federal government.
While I think this article did a good job explaining some of the details of why federal funding for high speed rail in the United States has ground to a halt, I still found some things about the article lacking.
The article points to certain Republican governors rejecting high speed rail plans as a major reason for federal funding being stalled. I wish the article would have had more details on why these governors are opposed to having billions of federal dollars for new infrastructure enter their state.
The article never goes into detail on this.
Also, what about private investing? Has that slowed because federal funding has slowed. The article fails to go into this as well.
In terms of the content of this article, my opinion is if America wants to see high speed rail come quicker, more investment will have to come from the private sector. This article just reinforces in my mind the problem of having a federal government that has grown to large and complicated to be efficient at getting anything done.
In terms of my critique of the coverage this article provides can be summed up in one sentence. Where is the rest of the story?
First Photo from Live Trading News
Second Photo from Wikimedia Commons