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February 18, 2011

May the best state win

by Nicole Schlosser

This week, as yet another Republican Governor turned his nose up at federal high-speed rail funds, California and New York stepped forward to ask that the funds be redistributed to them. California is apparently the only state close to building a high-speed rail line. If the state receives the extra $2.4 billion, how much would that help?

A report released on Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California says that, to fix California’s traffic congestion issues, policymakers need to encourage “job growth near transit stations and implement strategies that raise the cost of driving.” Higher fuel taxes and road use charges were cited as being the most effective in getting more solo drivers off the road and on to buses and trains. High-speed rail eventually may be a part of this transit oriented development solution, but, it did not factor heavily in the report.

In fact, the report claims that California hasn’t yet reaped the benefits from its substantial investment in passenger rail. “While rail ridership has increased slightly — from 0.9 percent of all commutes in 1990 to 1.4 percent in 2008 — the growth is much slower than the pace of transit cost increases and service expansion.”

Additionally, according to a recent news item put out by the San Ramon, Calif.-based Bay Area News Group, the project has several critics among universities and nonpartisan government analysts, who have published studies — though no specific ones were cited in the story.

Meanwhile, New York at least already has some high-speed rail infrastructure in place, and the residents seem more accustomed to using rail, unlike many car-crazed Californians, with the exception of a couple urban pockets.

What do you think? Should California or New York get Florida’s money?

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, which asks about the cost of not funding public transportation  here.

Nicole Schlosser

Senior Editor

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  • Michael Testerman[ February 18th, 2011 @ 12:15pm ]

    If a bipartisan majority of Florida's state legislature is strong willed enough to challenge Governor Scott's rejection of federal stimulus money for high -speed rail, let's give Florida a chance keep the money and build the first segment of their statewide system. Florida has an excellent shovel-ready project.

  • Cecil[ February 18th, 2011 @ 12:29pm ]

    The sad thing is California has picked the wrong alignment to invest the money on, not surprising! Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida probably have better alignments.

  • Bob J[ February 18th, 2011 @ 1:12pm ]

    If we did the analytically correct thing the money would go to DC, Maryland Delaware New Jersey New York Connecticut & Massachusetts. The Northeast corridor needs a high-speed rail system not high-speed trains trying to operate on existing rights-of-way. Get the politics out of it and get national interest into it.

  • Michael Pal[ February 18th, 2011 @ 9:38pm ]

    With 40% of all transit trips taken on NY State public transit systems (2008 stat), this is really a no brainer.

  • Highlander[ February 19th, 2011 @ 7:56am ]

    I agree with Mr Testerman in that we should let things play out in Florida, but otherwise North Carolina and Virginia might be the best candidate for additional ARRA funding with their Richmond to Raleigh segment of the SEHSR Corridor. Both states have invested heavily in their passenger rail programs and the SE HSR Corridor provides a natural extension of the Northeast Corridor. And, because of the proximity to Washington, it will provide an excellent close-in demonstration of the utility of modest increases in speed when coupled with frequent and reliable service, to those making the decisions on national passenger rail service.

  • roberto[ February 20th, 2011 @ 4:51pm ]

    As a Florida resident, I applaud our Governor for saying 'not' to the ridiculous rail proposal from Orlando to Tampa. This would have been a huge boondoggle and would have cost every Florida taxpayer a fortune.

  • Andre[ February 24th, 2011 @ 11:40am ]

    We called a cab but we could have taken the subway to the hospital. For what it's worth, we took the baby home on the subway. (Philly)


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