Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hope for NY & U.S. High-Speed Rail

NY was recently awarded funding high-speed passenger rail from the federal government. But we won't be speeding from Buffalo to Albany and NY City on a high-speed train real soon, as suggested by the Adam Zyglis cartoon. The intent of the award is to begin "to lay the foundation for high-speed passenger rail". It's a small sum compared to the amount requested in the application: $151 million vs. several Billion dollars. Two other states fared much better: California received $2.34 Billion and Florida, $1.25 Billion. Possible reasons for the paltry funding to NY are reported in a recent article by Jerry Zremski in The Buffalo News. A table supplied by the White House shows the full list of funded projects.

But there is hope for additional funding, and plans are being made for the future. The U.S. High-Speed Rail Association envisions a Buffalo to Albany and NY City connection by 2025 (see Map below, magenta line). Interestingly, they see a Toronto, Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Rochester connection happening sooner, by 2020 (Map, orange line). And even sooner, by 2015, they see connections completed in California, Florida, the South East and the Mid-West (Map, green lines). By 2030, the Association envisions inter-connections (Map yellow lines) permitting coast to coast high-speed rail travel between Buffalo and San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle.

[Click image to enlarge]

The timeline for the national rail system starts with the largest cities in the busiest corridors, and then grows to connect those together across the country, forming the backbone of a sustainable U.S. transportation system. Other components of the system would include connecting regional and commuter rail, light rail, streetcars, electric buses and, weather permitting, bicycles.

A national system of high-speed passenger rail will help revitalize our economy, reactivate our manufacturing sector, and create lots and lots of much needed jobs. Also, by 2030, another hope is that our national high-speed rail system will be powered by clean, renewable energy, helping end our dependency on foreign oil and slashing our carbon footprint.

For Buffalonians itching to get the feel of high-speed rail travel, as well as the feeling of the warm weather in Florida, watch the video below which previews an upcoming meeting, "High Speed Rail 2010",
March 4-5, in Orlando, Florida. Mobile link is here.

No comments: