Normally I might not give this its own post, but the editorial from the Christian Science Monitor on Prop 1A has some really good points that deserve a wider airing:
Yearly ridership is predicted at 88 million to 117 million passengers by 2030.
How can that be if last year only 26 million people rode the national rail network, Amtrak? Part of the answer lies in the state's expected population boom. But also, travelers gravitate to high-quality, affordable transport. Last year, ridership jumped 20 percent for the Acela, Amtrak's only fast train (but not as fast as trains around the world).
Opponents also say the north-south ride will take more like 3-1/2 hours, because no bullet trains operate at the plan's projected speed of up to 220 m.p.h. But Japan and France are testing prototypes capable of such speeds. And so what if the estimate is off? Downtown-to-downtown transport that's also independent of much bad weather and gate delays has its advantages.
Excellent points, all. Projected ridership can be easily attained and the claims about speed and timing don't hold water - or even if they did don't undermine the value and attractiveness of the system.
Finally, naysayers warn the construction price will nearly double, and that the trains will operate on a regular deficit. True, research shows rail projects around the world bust construction budgets by an average 45 percent. But the rail authority's plan spreads the build-out expense and risk between the state, federal government, and private investors. And while governments do subsidize rail systems the world over, bullet trains are proven moneymakers...
This is not a credit-card shopping spree on Rodeo Drive. It is an investment in reduced greenhouse gases, in less foreign oil, in less congestion, and in more jobs – for commerce is built on transport.
Couldn't agree more.