Do Not Fail High Speed Rail
California needs high speed rail for so many reasons. Given I-5 and LAX, how can you seriously push back on 2 hours and 40 minutes to LA, allowing for a couple of beers at 220 mph and then a nap?
But I’m truly surprised by those who push against it. I grow tired of NIMBY selfishness in Palo Alto / Menlo Park and childish op-eds in the New York Times and the Washington Post (or even the SF Chronicle or LA Times). And who knew highways magically grew from the soil without any sort of government subsidy?
Anyway, it was refreshing to see the The Sacramento Bee publish a solid editorial with an utterly brilliant diagram comparing California’s future HSR with that of France.
This diagram is just gorgeous and to the point. But as much as I love the TGV, an even better comparison to California is Spain and AVE between Madrid and Barcelona. It’s almost the same distance and time as the CAHSR plans, and the two cities are much closer in size than Paris-Lyon.
I was going to make a diagram for Spain in the same style as the Bee’s, but I realized that most people don’t realize how big France and Spain are compared to California. So behold a quick map of the three regions and HSR-relevant cities I whipped up in OmniGraffle.
(Geographic regions are to scale, and the metro population circle sizes are a bit of a wag, but all are relative.)
With population density like ours, and the success of TGV and AVE, how do you claim with any intellectual credibility that HSR won’t work here? It’s a significant amount of money, but it’s an investment, and the alternative is worse. You’re not going to make I-5 any wider, or add more runways to SFO or LAX.
While I’m at it: the utter moral bankruptcy of those using “train to nowhere” to describe the first planned segment between Bakersfield and Fresno is maddening. You know where they build the first bit of Interstate? Missouri. And the first BART line? Oakland-Fremont. Just stop moving your lips, you are embarrassing yourself. (This includes you, The Economist – your article was weak sauce. Sad, even. And you really ought to drive out of LA up I-5 on a Sunday sometime. Or any time.)
And don’t get me started on the haters in Palo Alto – their hypocrisy is stunning given the town was founded by a rail magnate.
Anyway, here’s to more sensible discussions on how to make HSR in California the best it can be, rather than killing it and California’s future.