California just voted to take a big step forward towards more sustainable transportation. High speed rail makes a lot more sense than flying for medium-distance trips such as LA to SF. It does not require enormous pieces of land to deliver good service to a increasing numbers of passengers, unlike an airport. It generates less air and noise pollution. Most train trips go from downtown to downtown, eliminating long expensive cab rides into town from distance airports. For shorter trips, a train full of passengers replaces hundreds of cars on highways and local roads, reducing congestion and air pollution.
Europe and Asia have been enjoying these advantages for years. Why should they have all the fun? Amtrak's Acela service in the Northeast offers an example of American success in high speed rail.
I hope that California's progress will inspire similar progress here. It's time for high speed rail in the Midwest. Can you imagine how many cars could be off our highways if we had high speed service from Chicago to Milwaukee, Springfield, and St. Louis?
It's a good reason to write to your elected representatives, as my friend Lisa discusses on her new blog. Building a third Chicago airport in Peotone is so 1980s. It's time to bring American transportation into the 21st century.