Proposition 1A is the Future of Travel

USF students come from all over the country, but mostly from other parts of California. Los Angeles, San Diego, and Sacramento natives make up a large portion of the USF population.

Can any of you Southern, Central or far Northern Californians imagine living in your home city while still going to USF? This won’t be a reality for you, but your kids might have that option. On Election Day, by a margin of 52.2%-47.8%, exactly 448,912 votes, California voters approved proposition 1A, the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Train Bond Act, potentially the largest public works project in California history.

It will also be the nation’s first true high-speed rail system. The system would be completely electric.

Proposition 1A authorized the sale of $9.95 billion in bonds to help begin the construction of an 800-mile high speed rail that would have electric trains speeding through Northern and Southern California at up to 220 MPH.

According to the state High Speed Rail Authority, a trip between the transbay terminal in downtown San Francisco and Los Angeles Union Station would take approximately 2 1⁄2 hours and cost $55 one-way.

The Foghorn staff is fully supportive of proposition 1A and very pleased with its passing. We feel that this is not going to be an aberration, but the beginning of a trend in a new, efficient way of traveling. It is also a much greener alternative to flying.

California’s population is expected to hit somewhere near 50 million by 2030 according to the Census Bureau. If we do not build this high speed rail, we are going to have to start the construction of more highways and airports to accommodate all Californians. A larger population means more cars, more roads, and more pollution throughout our state.

The high-speed rail is not only for a trip between Los Angeles and San Francisco. While this will be the main line, costing California $32 billion alone, it will cost another $10 billion to complete the network throughout California by adding extensions to San Sacramento, Riverside, and San Diego Counties. California is counting on a third of the money coming from California taxpayers, a third from the federal government, and a third from private investors.

The high-speed rail is a huge investment up front, but it’s a valuable investment in our transportation system. It will reduce pollution by taking cars off of Interstate-5 and reduce the number of people flying within California.

The high-speed rail is a popular proposition in the San Joaquin Valley where the economy is booming, but which lacks a major airport and therefore a frequent and low-cost air service. The high-speed rail is also appealing in the midst of record-setting gas prices.

Although gas prices have been at a free-fall during the past several weeks, economists agree that when the nation’s economy gets stronger gasoline prices will rise once again as demand for gasoline will rise.

California is also committed to reducing greenhouse gases and the high-speed electric rail will surely help that cause. The investment is large, but we will see returns in job creation for rail construction, in not having to build more highways and airports, and in the reduction of pollution.

The high-speed rail is still a distant peek into the future. Construction is not expected to begin until 2011, and the rail could take anywhere from 7-10 years to be completed. It is likely that we students will not see the benefits of proposition 1A until well into our 30’s, but when it comes remember that we put the plan in motion.

The price of a one-way ticket when the high-speed rail is opened is probably too pricey for most people to take to school. But as the train becomes a more common form of transportation, we hope that it becomes a more affordable and environmentally-friendly alternative of travel for the future.

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