America is in big trouble on multiple fronts, yet the majority of our "leaders" are asleep at the wheel with no real solutions to our major problems even being worked on, evaluated, or proposed!
In response, USHSR has compiled a list of the top 10 reasons to bring high speed rail to America to solve most of our current, and coming-soon problems (epic congestion, foreign oil dependence/escalating resource wars, climate change, crumbling infrastructure, endless highway deaths, economic problems, etc).
1) CONGESTION RELIEF
America faces epic congestion in every major metropolitan region of the country, costing $124 Billion per year in wasted time and fuel. Our transportation departments have no plans in the works that will solve this, and in fact continue to call for the endless widening of our highways - which have proven to make congestion far worse.
High speed rail is transformative - delivering 200 mph transportation every train, every day - without delays or congestion, ever. High speed rail offers fast, reliable service when it counts most - during rush hour and holiday travel. High speed rail delivers huge passenger capacity - carrying more people than a 10-lane freeway plus 2 airports!
2) ALTERNATIVE TO FLYING
Flying in America has become an unreliable nightmare! Airlines continue to cut corners (including staff and maintenance) and legroom, while security hassles, delays and lines keep getting worse. Flights are constantly canceled or delayed for no good reason, while the traveling public is regularly mistreated and abused by the airlines - making the entire experience miserable and unreliable. Rising global oil prices guarantee aviation will continue getting worse, year after year.
Flight delays cost America more than $31 Billion per year in wasted time!
High speed rail delivers 220 mph transportation every train, every day conveniently and reliably - on time, and directly into city centers. No hassles, no security lines, no delays, and plenty of room to work or play. A single high speed train carries as many people as 9 airplanes, and only takes 5 minutes to load and go!
Driving in America has become a deadly proposition - with 43,000 people killed every year in car accidents! That's more people killed than all the world wars combined, and far more than all terrorist acts combined.
In addition to the deaths, more than 1 million Americans are seriously injured in car accidents every year!
American transportation officials have nothing on tap to solve this epic problem either! Nothing at all. And they continue building roads as if there is no problem, or the endless deaths and injuries don't matter!
High speed rail is the world's safest form of transportation proven by decades of safe operations. Japan was the first nation to build high speed rail in 1964, and has since transported 10 billion passengers without a single fatality! France has a similar record with their 30 years of high speed rail operations, as do most other countries.
4) ENERGY SECURITY / NATIONAL SECURITY
America is in deep trouble due to our extreme oil dependency for 98% of our transportation! America is by far the most oil-dependent nation in the world, hooked on oil for our every move. No other nation comes close to our epic oil dependency. President George W. Bush correctly stated "America is addicted to oil!"
America uses 20 million barrels of oil EVERY DAY, 70% of which is for transportation! Maintaining this enormous flow of oil requires America to dig up the oceans and our pristine national forests, drill the arctic tundra, risk our clean drinking water and health and safety, and fight expensive wars all over the planet! None of this is sustainable, or desirable. President Bush famously concluded "we gotta get off oil".
America has only 5% of the total world population, but uses 25% of the world's oil! And we only have 2% of the known world oil reserves. This means we are extremely vulnerable and dependent on the rest of the world for most of the oil we need to run the nation. This includes running all our transportation networks (cars, trucks, buses, airplanes, ships, diesel trains, etc.), the majority of our agricultural production and food delivery, and running the U.S. Military (the world's largest oil consumer). The military is rapidly burning up precious oil, while guarding the flow of oil to America to fill our gas-guzzling SUVs! This is clearly not sustainable or smart.
America's annual foreign oil purchase adds up to a whopping $700 Billion per year foreign trade deficit, literally draining our economy, and transferring our wealth to oil-supplying nations.
"The quicker we get about the business of reducing our reliance on oil, the better we're going to be." -Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State (May, 2006)
Many of the nations that still have oil left are located in troubled, terrorist-ridden regions of the world. Our serious oil dependency shapes U.S. foreign policy, defense/military policy, and forces us to spend hundreds of billions of dollars (and countless lives) chasing, securing, and shipping oil supplies. U.S. oil dependence guarantees America will be engaged in resource wars for decades (until we get off oil). People are actually dying every day around the world so we can continue driving single-occupant SUVs here in America!
2/3 of the oil we use in America comes from foreign nations mostly from the other side of the world. To secure this oil, and to make sure it continues flowing to America, as much as half of our $800 Billion annual U.S. Defense budget goes directly to the protection of oil shipments back to the USA - to fill our SUV gas tanks! This represents a massive $400 Billion per year subsidy to oil-based transportation! (This is in addition to the $700 Billion per year foreign oil purchase!)
Driving gas-guzzling cars requires expensive wars for cheap oil
High speed rail is electric and super efficient, making it the world's greenest form of transportation that can be 100% powered by renewable energy - bypassing the entire global-oil-military-supply-chain! The California HSR system under construction in the Central Valley will be powered 100% by renewables!
5) LIGHT FREIGHT SOLUTION
America faces epic problems with its light freight shipping network, made up mostly of long-distance trucks, and airplanes. This shipping system clogs our highways and airways, and has an enormous carbon footprint, and causes major damage to road infrastructure. The entire system is highly vulnerable to oil price fluctuations and supply disruptions.
High speed rail offers a super efficient, electrically-powered, light freight shipping system infrastructure in combination with its high level passenger transport. Light freight includes everything transported by FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc. - mostly in long distance trucks and/or airplanes. (This is not to be confused with "heavy freight" like lumber, oil, coal, etc. transported by the big rail freight operators like BNSF, CSX, etc).
A new high speed light freight system will revolutionize America, and greatly lower the cost (and increase reliability) of shipping light freight goods and perishables throughout the country.
6) #1 CLIMATE SOLUTION
Transportation is the single largest cause of climate change because it emits the most carbon into the atmosphere. The American transportation system is the most inefficient on earth, with the majority of the country driving gas-guzzling, single-occupant SUVs hundreds of miles a day around sprawling communities (most of the time stuck in traffic).
Transforming our transportation to carbon free is an urgent task, and the single most important thing we can do to lessen the dangerous effects yet to come from climate change. Our country is in danger with many of our major cities located in low lying land along our coasts. Most of our transportation and energy systems (powered by fossil fuels) continue to add to the climate problem by cranking out tons of carbon every day, locking in worse climate effects in the coming decades.
High speed rail is the world's greenest form of transportation, and can be 100% powered by renewable energy, making it Zero Carbon Transportation. Since transportation is the single largest source of carbon, changing our transport networks to low/no carbon alternatives is an urgent task.
High speed rail offers such high capacity and convenience that it regularly replaces both flying and driving - removing carbon-intensive airplanes from the skies, and carbon-intensive cars from the roads. The green transformation can happen as fast as new rail lines can be built. No other solution even comes close to the speed of converting our national transportation system to zero carbon that high speed rail offers!
The California HSR system under construction in the Central Valley will be powered 100% by renewables.
7) HOUSING AFFORDABILITY
America faces a serious housing crisis in providing enough affordable housing for the population. In most major metropolitan areas, housing prices have risen to the point only the wealthy can afford nearby housing, forcing everyone else to commute many miles to cheaper housing. As more and more wealthy people move back to cities, the housing problems will accelerate.
High speed rail helps solve this serious problem by providing easy access to a wider housing market, making it feasible to live in second tier cities and commute by train. By opening up so many new housing options in a region, the pressure is taken off the high price "hot spots" by leveling out pricing at the regional scale.
High speed rail also spurs the development of additional rail systems such as local light rail and streetcars, which open up additional possibilities for affordable living near those stations to a wider segment of the population. Getting rid of one or all cars makes living far more affordable. Having access to high quality rail systems makes it easy to live without a car, or less cars per household, saving the huge expense of car ownership.
8) CITY REVITALIZATION & SPRAWL REDIRECTION
America faces the twin problems of urban disinvestment and suburban sprawl - opposite sides of the same misdirected growth problem. Luckily the urban revitalization movement is well underway in city after city!
Sprawl is still a huge problem in America with about 70% of the population living there, requiring endless driving by everyone to fulfill their basic daily needs, creating epic daily congestion and a huge carbon footprint.
High speed rail redirects regional land development patterns into a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) format - compact, walkable, mixed-use places focused around rail stations. Because high speed rail spurs additional rail systems to be built as feeder and distribution networks, additional corridors of development are redirected into compact, walkable forms.
High speed rail, metros, and light rail systems can act to re-densify sprawling regions by focusing more dense development around rail stations, having the overall effect of converting sprawl into walkable urbanism in nodes at the regional scale.
9) ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TOOL
America faces serious, long-term financial stagnation mainly from a lack of a manufacturing base, and having such an inefficient, oil-intensive transportation system that's draining our economy in multiple ways.
The only way to reverse this downward trend is to reinvest in our cities, to redevelop our own manufacturing base, and get America off oil and into an efficient transportation system, nationwide.
High speed rail has the power to attract major real estate development around its stations, while also creating whole new industries with a lot of manufacturing needs. The construction of a national high speed rail network will stimulate construction, the steel industry, concrete, metals, electronics, and all sorts of new areas. High speed rail will launch a nationwide construction boom, followed by a new travel boom that will live on for decades.
High speed rail stimulates new business relationships and access, while offering a super efficient way to do business regionally and nationally. High speed rail also builds local and U.S. wealth by keeping our transportation dollars here in America (instead of sending the money to oil-producing nations).
10) JOB CREATOR IN MANUFACTURING & CONSTRUCTION
America has lost it's manufacturing base and lead in the world after years of exporting jobs to China and other nations. The results have been devastating for American jobs, communities, and the nation's standing in the world.
Most of the important products we need to transition the nation to a clean energy future are produced by other nations! Trains, wind turbines, electric motors, solar panels, bicycles, etc. are mostly produced in other countries, when they should be produced here in America, creating American jobs, sustaining American families and communities. Producing products in America has a much lower carbon footprint, and stimulates our economy in multiple ways at many levels.
A national high speed rail system will create millions of good paying jobs building the infrastructure and system components, managing the rail systems, and operating the stations and related real estate development.
The system will also create a new national real estate boom, creating millions more jobs in development, construction, and property management, while revitalizing our cities and communities.