Saying 'No' to Rapid Rail

Is a rapid rail system in our future in Georgia?

While flipping through the channels on my television recently, I happened on a program about California’s plan for rapid rail to connect their major cities.  

They interviewed people for and against the system. Each of the people who spoke in favor of the system talked about the European countries having rapid rail. France was the country most often mentioned as a successful experience with citizen use of rapid rail.

It seems currently, in the state of California, there is a major push by Governor Jerry Brown to have a rapid rail system. One of the people heading the state authority for rapid rail promoted the fact that the trains will travel at 250 miles per hour over the tracks connecting the major cities in California and will travel into neighboring states.

There are questions being asked as to why the rapid rail is being built first in the rural areas of California, and the answer from the rapid rail authority guru is they want to test drive the trains to see if they will, in fact, travel at 250 miles per hour and the best place for testing is in the rural areas where there is less danger of having accidents harming large numbers of citizens.

The dream going along with rapid rail supporters is that people will give up the freedom and flexibility of driving their personal vehicle for the promise of being able to arrive at their planned destination faster and without having to sit in traffic gridlock.

The people who oppose the rapid rail system in California point to the fact that in France, gasoline is so high most people who own vehicles cannot afford to operate them any longer, so they have to resort to rapid rail or some other means of public transit to be able to travel.

Others point out that a train running at the speed of 250 miles per hour will frighten cattle standing in the fields in the rural areas. Once cows are frightened, they give less milk.

The biggest concern is the cost of building the rapid rail system, which is an unproven system, and the uncertainty if it will provide the service promised. The opponents of the California system point to the reality that federal tax money is not being granted in as large amounts as was promised for rapid rail systems. There is also the growing reality that once a system is built, the cost of maintenance and operation is to be carried by the citizens who use the train and tax payers who might never ride the train.

There are some people in the government of Georgia who believe rapid rail is what we need. There is no doubt our transportation gridlock calls for a solution. From where I stand the cost is too high and the risk too great, however, for Georgia to jump into a rapid rail system as the answer to our traffic woes.

Follow Ray Newman on Twitter — @RayNewmanSr.

Do you think we need a rapid rail system in Georgia? Tell us in comments.

Michael Robinson March 08, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I'm generally in favor of mass transit, but it's probably a long-term solution for a place with as much sprawl as Georgia. We'd be better in the short and medium term with something like a state-operated Zipcar service where you can reserve a car for a set amount of time. This will work a better better once driverless cars are a bit more developed so public cars aren't stuck in a parking lot all day.


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