I thought I’d write my first “political” entry on something that I have been talking about with family and friends for the last year or so.
A “High Speed Rail” system (I’ll continue to call it “HSR” throughout this post) would be incredible for this country. I know, I know, how are we going to fund it? Well, that could be worked out several different ways, and maybe I’ll delve into some of those ways at a later date.
Kellie and I just got done traveling for a week. We made the trek back to Ohio and Kentucky from a Wednesday to the following Thursday. We covered 9 different states: South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Iowa, and Nebraska…along with doubling up on South Dakota, Indiana, and Illinois. So in 8 days of travel, we made our way through/to 12 states total. A lot of miles…a lot of gas…and a lot of spending.
I know that a HSR would be very tough, expensive, and “inconvenient.” As Americans, we have grown accustomed to liking things that are “convenient” for us (as individuals). Cell phones are convenient for quick and easy communication, but many times inconvenient for actually “communicating!” It’s convenient for every member of a household over 16 years old (or 14 here in South Dakota) to have their own vehicle, but not convenient on the bank account. It’s convenient to use credit cards to buy things, but inconvenient when we know that whoever we buy from has to mark prices up in order to pay for the credit card system — I recently talked to a [small] business owner who spends $4,000 a month paying for each time he has to run a credit card.
Think of how convenient a HSR would be now. I’ll use Ohio, Kentucky, and South Dakota examples — I know these states a little bit, that’s why.
- It takes roughly 4.5 hours to drive from Cincinnati (southwest) to Cleveland (northeast). In that drive, you go through Columbus, which there is NOT a good way to drive anywhere around Columbus. A rail system that goes from Cincy to Cleveland could take 1.5 to 2 hours. That is a trip that is doable in a day. A trip from Cincy to Columbus is a good 1.5 hours driving, depends on where you want to go. Imagine a soccer fan traveling from Cincy to Columbus (with all the other soccer fans) by HSR in maybe 30 minutes for Columbus Crew games!
- It takes roughly 3 hours to drive from Lexington, Kentucky to Nashville, Tennessee. Both are decent cities to travel and venture to. They have their own attractions. Imagine a HSR taking you to the Country Music Hall of Fame from Lexington in an hour! All the UK football fans could ALWAYS travel down to their “sacred” Music City Bowl together — that’s about the only bowl that UK football should be going to anyway.
- Here in South Dakota, no one from Sioux Falls likes to drive to Rapid City (and vice versa). A HSR would allow a person from Sioux Falls to travel to Rapid City in 2 hours or so, compared to the 5.5+ hour drive it normally takes. Imagine a high school basketball game THAT far away for a regular season game in Ohio…unheard of mainly. They do it all the time here. They have to travel, spend the night, travel, etc. Whereas, a HSR would allow that trip in a whole day and be MUCH safer.
Basically, I think it could work in the US. Many people do not think it could. I think it could be really hard to get a national HSR working “together.” But many HSR systems working all over the country is definitely feasible to me. Many people have said that one of the downfalls of this country has been the railroad system being phased out. In these scenarios, I believe them. Add in a better transportation system within urban settings, a HSR system could work out great for the country. Look at how much money we’d each save on gas, oil, cars, etc. to open up our bank accounts to other spending habits we enjoy.
The only downside, it’s not “convenient” enough for us. If the HSR travels fast, saves time and money, and has legitimacy to it, it will work. People will use it if we can give them a reason to use it. They won’t use it if it is slow, takes too many stops, is inconvenient when boarding/unloading, etc. It doesn’t have to be that way. Pretty much every European country has one, and they make it work. It is a part of their culture. It can be worked into ours if done properly.