Surprisingly, after Obama’s announcement to give $8 billion to High Speed Rail (HSR) projects across the country, popular support for HSR has dropped, but it is still 88%. Not bad.
Of course, more money is needed to make HSR the reality people dream of.
A new survey shows that 83% of people think HSR and mass transit should be getting more money.
A survey in March of last year by HNTB called “America THINKS” found that 94% of Americans were “open to high-speed rail travel for long-distance travel within the United States” and this year’s version of it (conducted last month and just out) finds that support is down to 88%.
Clearly, though, this is still very high.
“The time has come for high-speed rail,” says Peter Gertler, HNTB high-speed rail services chair. “Stimulus money is seeding initial projects. It’ll be up to those of us in the industry – working in partnership with transportation agencies and elected officials – to keep up the momentum.”
The bottom line is, we have issues concerning pollution and the price of fuel that don’t seem to be going away anytime soon. And even beyond fuel, driving is very “expensive” in time costs in many places — it is not an efficient way to travel around a very populated place. The definition of a populated place is a lot of people in a relatively small area. Giving everyone a large vehicle of their own to move around in is not going to be the best solution.
And going from one populated place to another in the same region is better served by fast, mass transit in many instances as well.
Of course, we need a lot of funding to go towards high-quality HSR and mass transit if we are going to ever have a more efficient transportation system. But the public seems to be in support of this. 83% (more than 4 out of 5) people support a larger share of federal funding going towards mass transit and HSR infrastructure — they agree that this shift needs to occur. So, hopefully we will see it happen.
“While our interstate highways empowered economic growth and development during the last 50 years, we can no longer simply build our way out of congestion and conservation problems,” Gertler says. “Establishing a long-term multi-modal transportation vision that includes rail is crucial.”
Obama is helping to transform our out-dated transportation system, but a lot is needed from Congress — specifically, a new transportation funding bill to replace the previous one that expired about a year ago — to make this transformation happen in full.
Image Credit: foolish adler via flickr under a CC license