May the best state win

Posted on February 18, 2011 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.

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