Argument Proposition 1A

Essay add: 31-03-2016, 17:58   /   Views: 102
Is There Even A Need For A High Speed Rail System?

What does most of Europe and Asia have that for some reason American’s and Californian’s seem to fight against every chance that they can? Well besides a better infrastructure, I would say that a high-speed rail system is one of the biggest downfalls of what is supposed to be an “enlightened culture” out here on the west coast. With all the drive nowadays for “Go Green” you would have figured that everyone and their uncle would be jumping on the bandwagon to get this done already. But if it is not an argument on if it is even needed or not it gets dragged down into the issue of whether it is a good investment or not and are we going to be able to afford it. The opponents say ”Can we really afford it”? At this point, Californian’s should be asking “Can we afford NOT to get it built”? I will go over some of these arguments and present my view based on geographies of California, benefit versus cost of a high-speed rail system and what we can expect as a result of this.

If we were to superimpose an image of Japan over that of California we would notice some striking similarities in geography and space between major cities. The country of Japan’s high-speed rail system called the “bullet train” or “shinkanzen” (partly because of its shape and speed), since it began operation in 1964, has been able to transport nearly six billion passengers safely (www.japanrail.com/JR_shinkansen.html) from major city to city over 1,500 miles of track and connect areas that were previously considered secondary cities (like Fresno) to make it possible for commuters to work and return home daily. It is also taking into account safety, even though it has been in operation for over forty-four years there has not been even one fatality as a result of its operation. Consider that Japan is even more seismically active than California and it makes for an even stronger argument for its need.

Can Amtrak even with its limited track area boast such a safety record? I don’t think so. In late 2007 an Amtrak train was going 25 mph over the posted limit through a switching station and collided with a freight train causing 187 injuries (as reported by FOX News). How about that Tule fog that we get here in the central valley on a yearly basis? During that time airports are shutdown, highways grind to a halt and people are pretty much stuck where they are till it lifts. With a dedicated high-speed rail system that is also not a problem, as is also the same with rain and snow that cause a whole range of yearly problems for commuters, Japan only shuts down its rail system for earthquakes and typhoons. What kind of price tag can we place on that kind of reliability? Japan has truly capitalized on its use and shown how effective it is to the rest of the world. Is this just a thing that can only exist in Japan? I don’t think so.

And what of the benefits for an ailing California economy will a high-speed rail system bring? For one thing California’s unemployment rate has increased in 2008 from 5.9 % at the beginning of this year to 7.7 % for the month of September according to the State of California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) News Release for the month of October. With the potential of adding over 500,000 new jobs (160,000 in construction and 340,000 in its operation) why are we even having this discussion? For anyone that goes near any of the major cities in California, congestion and gridlock become a way of life for the everyday commuter. Is it any wonder that California has three of the top five most congested urban areas in the country? With a projected increase in population size to 42 to 48 million people by 2020 (per the Public Policy Institute of California), how are we going to connect a burgeoning population with a sagging economy? As it stands now, it is incredible that California has prospered till now.

Last on benefits, what about “Go Green!”? On a personal note, the hype involved with all of these pushes to reduce waste, recycle and conserve has made me sick. Not that I am not behind it if people are actually serious about being concerned for the environment, but I have seen it more as a lot of hype and little real action in making something happen. People believe just because they start carrying their little “eco-bags” into the supermarket that all of a sudden mother earth will shine her benevolent spirit down on us. Really? Give me a break! What about eliminating 12 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions in California annually? How much easier will it be able to breathe for residents in central California without the resulting smog that chokes our valley every year? I would say then that really is “putting your money where your mouth is” and then maybe I can take these environmental whackos more seriously.

The cost of California’s high-speed rail system has been calculated at $9.95 billion, with nearly $9 billion for the proposed 800 miles of track and $1 billion earmarked for improvement of our current rail system. This will be negated in large part (up to 25 to 33%) by federal funding thanks to the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2007 (s.294) passed by the United States Senate and adding between $10 and $12 billion to successfully bring this together. If the U.S. Senate understands the value of our nation’s rail systems, shouldn’t we? How much are we spending on highway maintenance on an annual basis? Cal-Trans may have a good reason not to want a high-speed rail system considering the state’s budget for it’s 18,251 miles of road/highway improvements and maintenance was $1.4 billion for 2008, yet California ranked 44th in the country for its costs-versus-effectiveness (Reason Foundation – Policy Study 369 July, 2008).

The reasons keep piling on why we need this and yet the pundits desperately wish to stick their heads in the sand and find another band-aid solution to a problem that could have been resolved years ago. Did you know that at one point Los Angeles had a mass-transit system? Yes, till the 1940’s and 50’s they had one till public officials closed it down in favor of a bus system and highway projects. We can see today just how effective those choices were. California has always been about bringing together people and technology, culture and traditions, bringing together a diverse people that are more fun-loving than the rest of the country combined (remember we did get Disneyland FIRST!).

We should have been a shining example to the country of what we are and capable of accomplishing, instead we’ve allowed ourselves to be a dysfunctional joke of cities stretched over a vast landscape. Don’t we deserve to set the shining standard? Everything about California getting its own high-speed rail system makes sense unless we are competing to see how we can be out-done by states like North Dakota and Montana. Really California, we are competing with North Dakota? Let’s get serious, get a high-speed rail system and finally move the state of California into the 21st century.

Article name: Argument Proposition 1A essay, research paper, dissertation