High Speed Rail, China Vs US

It is well known that the US is resistant to high speed rail (HSR), which is a mistake placing us behind other industrialized nations on many continents.

As of this moment, the highest speed rail service available in the US is 79 mph. By comparison, France has HSR which has a top speed of 357 mph. China introduced HSR in 2007 and since that time has built out 18,000 miles of HSR, with another 7000 miles to be completed by 2025.

Uzbekistan has HSR with a top speed of 160 mph!

HSR has advantages of requiring less fuel than jets, less time to departure, less infrastructure needed for individual terminals and less passenger cost.

Japan, South Korea, China, India and most of Europe make extensive use of rail service. If you’ve ever visited any of these countries, there is no denying this fact. The US is one of few countries that considers rail travel a thing of the past.

One of the biggest reasons for this is because of competition between rail service, vehicle manufacturers and airlines. Size of the country has nothing to do with it. China is proof of that. Europe is proof of that. The fact that we had many thousands of miles of rail in this country at one time which could have been largely adapted to HSR is proof of that. Airlines, vehicle manufacturers and oil companies have been resistant to HSR because of the profits involved which they would stand to lose if it were adopted on any scale.

Make no mistake, the poor state of all forms of public transportation in the US is also another form of oppression of the poor. Where the US once had extensive public transportation services in major cities including subways, railways, trolleys, buses and streetcars, over time cars and jets took their place, spurred on by corporate interests which made public transportation of other means nothing short of shameful in many cases. Public funding for public transportation has been hard fought for many decades. Even now in a time of climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions, cities refuse to fund construction and maintenance of existing forms of public transportation. They oppose even more any transportation system which does not utilize fossil fuel. Corporate profits take precedence over transportation needs or environmental concerns.

Even taxi services in major cities have a hand in this situation. Cities would rather have hundreds of taxis, each paying licensing fees, each spewing exhaust, costing far more cumulatively than public transportation which could service more people at lower cost and with less pollution than the taxis do.

I have ridden public transportation many times in my life. In multiple cities, multiple states, multiple countries. In the 80’s I was astounded at the difference in public transportation in Europe compared to the US. In US cities, I have lived where public transportation ceased, only ran twice a day or I had to walk miles to get to a bus stop. On weekends, the nearest service was much further away. In some cases, I actually took a taxi to get to the nearest bus stop and hoped to get there before the last bus left.

Of course, states want more vehicles on the roads because of increased taxes and fees collected for them. They are apathetic to the fact that many of those paying the taxes, fees, fuel costs, fuel taxes, insurance and vehicle payments are at the low end of the income spectrum. They are apathetic to what else those people are unable to afford just to have a means of transport. Leaving some with a choice between needed medications or utilities versus a way to get to their low paying jobs, sometimes working multiple jobs and risking their health further to afford the vehicle in a never ending cycle. Just as long as the corporations make a profit which they can “donate” to future campaigns.

Just call it “freedom” and the general public sucks it up. Talk about creating jobs and you’re a hero. Just don’t talk about high speed rail or expanding public transportation.

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