Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Putting the American Commitment to High-Speed Rail in Context

by Yonah Freemark

Under the supervision of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the Obama Administration has been making a big deal of its efforts to promote livable communities where people don’t have to drive to get everywhere. At the Netroots Nation conference last week in Las Vegas, Mr. LaHood was especially vocal about his goals. “Americans like their automobiles,” he said. “One of the reasons they like ‘em is because it is in some places in the country the only form of transportation, particularly in rural America.”
He promotes an alternative. Americans would act more like Europeans and Asians when it comes to transportation choice, the Transportation Secretary implied, had President Eisenhower made a commitment to high-speed rail when he advanced his Interstate Highway System in the 1950s. “That’s the kind of vision that President Obama and Vice President Biden [now] have for America,” he said. Mr. LaHood suggested that after 25 years of spending, “80% of America will be connected” to intercity rail.
Yet all evidence suggests that despite Mr. LaHood’s statements — the most honest (and exciting) about the future of American commuting by any U.S. transport secretary ever, as far as I know — there is no way that his goals will be implemented unless there is a massive transformation in the way American politicians think about transportation.
There are two principal explanations for this problem: one, a lack of long-term planning in favor of alternative transportation options; and two, a lack of funding.

photo by Global X

more about rail transportation:

Los Angeles Streetcars: A Push To Bring Back The Rich History Of Streetcars Begins In Downtown LA

Spatial Network Analysis of Public Transport Systems: Developing a Strategic Planning Tool to Assess the Congruence of Movement and Urban Structure in Australian Cities


Germany's Longest Subway, Billions Upon Billions for Berlin-Munich Bullet Train

What's In A Name: Branding Rail Travel

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