Friday, January 28, 2011

High Speed Rail in Cascadia?

I recently ran across a Facebook page for "High-Speed Rail for Washington, USA". Frankly, this seems to be rather a pie-in-the-sky goal. At least they are focusing on the right goal - get people out of cars and airplanes and into a much more efficient and environmentally friendly mode of transportation. However, we don't even have passenger rail of any sort throughout huge swathes of Cascadia! Take a look at this Amtrak system map. Amtrak won't get you within 100 miles of Yakima, which has a population of 85,000 people and is the 10th largest city in Washington. Amtrak doesn't even get within 200 miles of Boise, Idaho's capital and largest city (and that's via Nevada, not even a part of Cascadia).

As we enter the Long Emergency of declining energy supplies, passenger rail service may be the only viable means of overland transport outside of riding a horse or walking. Huge areas of Cascadia may really suffer if we don't make an effort to build a passenger rail system that is at least up to third-world standards before it is too late. Let's lay off the dreams of a high-speed rail system in some never-to-come Techno-Utopia, and instead concentrate on building something that will meet the needs of real people in the real future we are likely to experience.

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