No Politics

Keeping Up and Up Keep

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Am I the only person who is as confused as to how our great nation has fallen so far behind the rest of the industrialized world in terms of infrastructure and modes of transportation. I Europe I could literally have a nice lunch in Paris and then run off to catch Oktoberfest celebrations in Munich that evening. Without even sitting behind the wheel of a car or plane. Apparently the rest of the world understands the need for mass transit much more than we do. Is it because of population density? Possibly. If you wanted to take a train from Miami to New Orleans you would have to travel north to Washington DC Virginia before heading west. This blows my mind. Unless you live in Chicago or the New York City area there are no means of train travel that make sense for anyone else in the United States.

Instead of trying to use Amtrack as our main mode of train travel all around the country we need to look at each market state by state. This is an issue that should be federally funded yet state controlled. The bailing out of Amtrack several years ago was a meager attempt to keep those lines open for commercial use in those select markets as well as to keep the maintenance up on those railways which double as routes for industry. There are states which are long overdue for a better mass transit system. There are also some states with such a little population density that it does not make fiscal sense to set up a large scale operation either. A state like Florida for example has a multitude of urban areas and only four major interstates connecting them. A tourist destination of such should have a more user friendly mode of long distance travel.

Let's set aside the tourism aspect. Not only would this spread commerce to other parts of the state but create long term jobs around and along the corridor. The population of Florida is melting pot of ages and ethnicities. There are many people who would benefit from a system like this. Not only could workers commute to their jobs in town instead of driving but even the elderly who are not comfortable driving could have solice knowing that the train can take them almost anywhere whenever they need. The amount of stress put on our roadways is incomprehensible. By establishing a mode of transportation that is effective and convenient there is no telling how much money, time, and lives could be saved. Consider the reduction of oil consumption, pollution, and car accidents that would come as a result of a proper train system.
The system needs to be carefully and methodically routed to make logistical and financial sense. I am going to stick with the Florida system because this is a state that I am very familiar with and that many people know. Lets take for example the Tampa/StPete area. With Sarasota and Orlando a short drive away. What I am proposing is to take a look at the needs city by city and county by county to establish a plan for the entire state. A railway that stopped at every major neighborhood and shopping area would be ideal but may not be entirely feasible. Trains would obviously run express routes at certain times of the day to get commuters to their destination in the shortest time possible. Lets look at Tampa. There is a major downtown center with a lot of employment however not a lot of people live there. This is a prime example of where an express train from the surrounding neighborhoods or outer counties would benefit. There is also a major international airport, MacDill Airforce Base, The University of South Florida and University of Tampa, Busch Gardens, International Mall, and several large medical institutions all very close to one another yet very difficult to get to no matter what time of day it is. These are the high population density and high traffic institutions of the city. These areas should be linked directly. Doing this would ease the traffic between the areas substantially. More significantly during business hours. This "main" line would also be linked to the peripheral substations as well in a few other areas in the county such as Brandon, Casino/Fairgrounds, and up the Veterans corridor. This would benefit the local economy, roadways, and pollution. This goes without saying, but the stretch from Clearwater/St. Pete to Tampa would benefit substantially from a high speed rail system. Imagine the time and money that would be saved for everyday commuters who have to battle traffic and the clock to commute to and from either city. Also think about the vacationer who flew into Orlando and was able to travel from that airport to the beaches of Clearwater and St. Pete via Tampa. 

Is this not making sense? Why are we in the stone age compared to the rest of the industrialized world in comparison to our public transportation? Yes, the cost would be very high, but think about the long term benefits. Jobs would be created for the rail and it's stations. The rail would benefit the economies along its route and at all of it's stops. The amount that we spend on highway maintenance would decrease as well as the traffic. Revenues from a rail pass would work much like a toll road and would be profitable eventually.
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