I see that everyone is really excited about the $8 billion in the stimulus package that is a “down payment” on a national high speed rail network. And there’s already talk of further investment. But is this really going to change how people travel long distances in our country?
I grew up on the east coast, where Amtrak is a regular part of a lot of people’s travel. Philly to New York or DC was actually a daily commuting pattern for some people…even NYC to to DC on a semi-regular basis. It was convenient, more or less faster than driving and it actually drove down the cost of airfare between those cities as well since it was a legitimate competitor.
But out here, cities are further apart…really further. New York to DC ain’t got nothin’ on Seattle to San Francisco, and even at 200 miles per hour you’re probably not living in one city and working in another. Maybe Seattle to Vancouver or Portland, but daily nonstops on Horizon air from SeaTac to PDX are like every half hour or something. Will a high speed train get people out of cars or plane and/or serve as a legitimate competitor in transportation options?
I’m sure our friends at Orphan Road have a strong opinion on the subject, but I’d love to hear some thoughts!