As you probably know by now, we here at the California High Speed Rail blog are HUGE fans of Fiona Ma. She has taken the lead on high speed rail in the state legislature, and her trip on the record-breaking TGV journey in April 2007 was the turning point in public awareness for high speed rail in our state.
Last month Ma attended the Ecocity 2008 conference in San Francisco, and gave a powerful speech explaining the environmental and economic benefits of high speed rail. Among the points she mentioned was that transportation is the largest source of California's carbon emissions, and that the only way we will meet our AB 32 targets is to build high speed rail. The video below covers the speech, at around 10 minutes long (Ma's remarks begin at 00:45).
One of the key points she made was that California's leadership is crucial for the rest of the country to embrace high speed rail. "If we do not pass it in November, we will never have high speed trains in the US," she told the audience to loud applause. She is probably right - California is seen as a national leader, especially on technology and global warming action. But if California doesn't pass the bonds this November, it will embolden HSR deniers and discourage HSR supporters - and even more importantly, might derail the momentum currently building in Congress to drop billions of dollars on HSR. And even if momentum continued in DC, we might find that places such as Texas, the Northeast Corridor, and the Great Lakes states will move ahead on HSR while California is left behind. A defeat of the bond this November WILL kill our chances for HSR for the next ten years.
But Fiona Ma was confident that we will win in November. As she told the audience:
I think this is the perfect storm. The high cost of gasoline, the congested roadways, the long lines at the airports, and now with the airline crisis, I really believe that this is the time that Californians will pass this bond in November.
The HSR deniers don't want to discuss any of these problems - but Californians understand these problems very well. No wonder 58% of voters back the high speed rail bonds. They get it, just as Fiona Ma gets it.
Fiona Ma also called on the bloggers to help publicize high speed rail - and we've been doing exactly that for two months now. The California High Speed Rail Blog: We Do Our Part!