Wednesday, February 17, 2010

High speed rails

In a car driven culture like the United States, will a high speed rail be profitable enough to not become defunct? Amtrak lost money on 41 of its 45 train lines in 2008. I hope Obama knows what he is talking about with his endeavor to build these throughout the country. I am assuming his proposal is to reduce our dependence on cars and buses for transportation and the possibility of oil prices spiking as this natural resource becomes depleted.

If oil becomes more expensive and low-carbon technologies are given a push because of concerns about global warming, we would be able to see an increase in travel via trains especially since flying seems to be becoming more of a hassle. China has been purchasing these high speed trains as they are rapidly expanding their train system to make travel more accessible within the country. China is about the same size as the United States too.
China, Europe and Japan have been using high speed rails for years so it is possible that this can be used as a preferred method of travel.  I think the biggest problem is due to our city layouts. Not too many cities within the United States are pedestrian friendly or public transportation friendly. Have you tried taking public transportation in Los Angeles? Its pretty awful, mostly because not enough people use it. And many cities do not have taxi cabs just roaming the streets like NYC.

In China, the Chinese are not as reliant on cars as Americans are and most cities do have their fair share of taxis for cheap prices. In Europe, the cities are extremely pedestrian friendly and the train stations are usually located in convenient places. In addition their cities have public transportation making it easy to get around. Japan also has a good public transportation system outside Toyko if you can understand Japanese.

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