I’ve been focused this week on talking about livable cities, but I don’t want anyone to think we’re ignoring inter-city travel.
If you read any news at all about transportation in the past 6 weeks, you know about the $8 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act investment we’re making in high-speed rail (HSR). I’ve been hearing from many enthusiastic rail advocates, and news outlets across the country have been writing editorials championing HSR. More importantly, there is a growing list of states and cities that want to get working on this right away.
Let me remind anyone who doesn’t already know it that I’m from Peoria, Illinois. So, when I consider rail, my first thoughts are of the old Rock Island Rocket that ran to Chicago in my youth. That train, with its GM Electro-Motive engine and its legendary speed, dominated the imaginations of me and my friends.
People rode the Rocket because of the convenience and efficiency it offered. And, with the ARRA high-speed rail investment, President Obama and I want to develop a 21st century equivalent of that efficiency and convenience.
High-speed rail travel will offer competitive door-to-door trip times. It will reduce congestion on key routes between cities. It will reduce our dependence on oil. It will reduce pollution. And, it will create the jobs of the future, the jobs America needs right now.
Can we build a new industry with $8 billion? We can start. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel; Europe and Japan already use this technology. We need only put people to work here making it happen.
This administration is not looking to abandon air travel or highways. We’re looking to increase options for convenient, efficient travel in the most sustainable ways possible.