I'll be blunt. Since Barack Obama and Joe Biden look set to become our next president and vice president, and since polls show that Obama supporters also support Prop 1A it is worth reminding Californians that these two candidates are strong supporters of high speed rail. Feel free to forward this to your family and friends.
Barack Obama at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio in August:
At one point, asked about his support for high-speed rail, Obama lapsed into what was almost a comedy routine. All he needed was a fake brick wall behind him and a two-drink minimum.
"If you think about the Midwest, think about right here, what we've got is all kind of towns that we could connect," Obama said. "All of these cities are, they basically take in the air about 45 minutes to an hour to fly."
"But by the time you get to the airport," Obama continued, "take off your shoes, get to the terminal, realize that your flight's been delayed two hours, go pay $10 for a cup of coffee, and a sandwich for another $10, come back, you get on the plane, you're sitting on the tarmac for another 25 minutes, you finally take off, you're circling above the city for another half hour, when you land they can't find your luggage, and then you get to where you're going -- by the time it's all done it's a five-hour trip! …So the time is right now for us to start thinking about high-speed rail as an alternative to air transportation, connecting all these cities and think about what a great project that would be in terms of rebuilding America."
Or this, from a visit to Beech Grove, Indiana during the primaries, when Obama talked to a man who works in the Amtrak shops there:
The irony is with the gas prices what they are, we should be expanding rail service. One of the things I have been talking bout for awhile is high speed rail connecting all of these Midwest cities -- Indianapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, St. Louis. They are not that far away from each other. Because of how big of a hassle airlines are now. There are a lot of people if they had the choice, it takes you just about as much time if you had high speed rail to go the airport, park, take your shoes off.
This is something that we should be talking about a lot more. We are going to be having a lot of conversations this summer about gas prices. And it is a perfect time to start talk about why we don't have better rail service. We are the only advanced country in the world that doesn't have high speed rail. We just don't have it. And it works on the Northeast corridor. They would rather go from New York to Washington by train than they would by plane. It is a lot more reliable and it is a good way for us to start reducing how much gas we are using. It is a good story to tell.
Joe Biden in 2001:
A lead author of the legislation, Senator Joseph Biden, Jr. (DE) said, "Every advanced economy in the world invests more than the United States in high-speed inter-city service. We like to think of ourselves as the most advanced country in the world, and I believe we are, but for years we have nickel-and-dimed passenger rail service in this country."
Biden explained the broad support for the legislation, stating, "We have the support of the many members all across the country because our country's transportation system is already stretched to the breaking point."
Biden's comments from the campaign trail in 2007:
“I commute 250 miles a day on high-speed rail,” Biden said. “I'm Mr. Amtrak.”
Biden proposes an interstate high-speed rail service similar to the interstate highway system.
“One mile of one lane of I-80 costs $22 million,” Biden said. “One mile of I-95 (on the East Coast) holds more traffic and costs $41 million.” By contrast, “One mile of high-speed rail costs $1 million.
“You can fit more people on a rail car and you'll be taking 50 automobiles off the road. Rail uses 1/50th of the cost (of a car) in terms of energy consumption.”
Biden said the reason why railroads haven't been used more in the past is because of special interest groups, most notably the airline industry. “They get $350 million a year to go where no one wants to go,” Biden said, qualifying that by saying that there is not enough business to support a commercial flight. He said people don't like the idea of subsidizing railroads, yet the airline industry gets subsidies to fly to sparse locations.
From an Iowa town hall, also in 2007:
You are looking at Mr. Transportation,” he said in response to a question about using an electrified rail system like Europe’s. “I am the reason Amtrak keeps moving.”...
“Why do you think businesses are leaving (the U.S.)?” he said. “We need a good infrastructure, which would benefit economic development.”
If you are casting a vote tomorrow for Obama-Biden here in California, be sure to cast a vote for Prop 1A as well.