A major reason in favor of the construction of high-speed trains in America is to relieve airways and traffic congestion. First, delays at airports are costly. Larry Johnson, director of the Center for transportation Research at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, calculates that passengers lose more that twelve million hours each year in delays at O’Hare airport alone. In 1986, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airlines, delays cost five billion dollars, including two billion in extra fuel and labor cost, for the ailing airline industry. According to the FAA, relieving airport congestion will cost one hundred and seventeen billion over the next decade (Mobey 14). Transportation planners predict that freeways will suffer from unbearable gridlock over the next two decades. Their conventional wisdom maintains that the U.S. cannot build out of this congestion. The Southern California Association of Governments says that daily commute time, in the Los Angeles area will double by two thousand and twenty and “unbearable” present conditions on the freeways will become “even worse”. By two thousand and twenty, drives are expected to spend
Seve nty percent of their time in stop-and-go traffic, as compared to fifty six percent today. Similar predictions have been made for metro areas around the country. Yet the best alternatives that they can offer are to spend billions more on public transport that hardly anyone will use and to try to force people into carpools that do not fit the ways they actually live and work (Samuel p 1). Highway traffic is also costly. Maintaining the interstate highway system could run three trillion dollars over the next several decades (Moberg 14). Urban congestion is a hidden tax on the productivity and welfare of urban areas everywhere. In areas like Los Angeles and New York, this tax is eight billion dollars per year; nationally, about fifty six billion per year. In the next twenty years, this insidious tax is projected to nearly double (Mallinckarodt p1). Bill Fay said,” Cars stuck in traffic waste more fuel and emit more pollutants than cars that are moving”(Dahl 4). High occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes are one of the primary tools used to reduce traffic congestion on the state highway system and improve air quality (“HOV Lanes in California …” p1). The usual goal of HOV lane restrictions is to provide overall congestion, and emissions reduction (Mallinckdet. p 1). However, in recent years, HOV lanes effectiveness in achieving these goals has come in to question (“HOV Lanes in California …” p1). When drivers use a highway, they do not pay the cost that they may be imposing on other drivers. Ideally, traffic should flow smoothly at the speed limit. However, as traffic increases, eventually the addition of one more vehicle will slow the flow and increase the travel time of other vehicles. At this point congestion (the negative externality) begins (Dahl p4). Sen Daniel Patrick Moynihan said,” The train technology, offers great opportunities to reduce congestion in our surface and air transportation system” (Clough 9). Thus building high-speed trains would aid the problem of increasing congestion at America’s airports and on the highways.
Those who argue against high-speed trains cite their negative effects to the environment. Environmental concerns have been raised with respect to high-speed rail. High-speed rail’s ability to materially reduce air pollution and energy consumption is dependent upon significantly reducing automobile and airline use ( Dahl p2). The FDOT’s (Florida Department of Transportation) projections, anticipate so few people transferring from autos and air that any air pollution or energy gain would be inconsequential. Further, construction of major infrastructure projects consumes energy. It has been estimated that San Francisco’s BART rapid transit system consumed more energy in construction than the future diversion from automobiles would save (Dahl p4). Burning fossil fuels, a process that expends approximately two times as much energy as it produces, generates most Florida electric power. Electric propulsion thus loses some of its advantage over fossil fuel propulsion (Johnson 2). Additionally French Champagne growers claim that high-speed rail embankments trap cold air, threatening their crops. A similar effect in Florida could make preservation of adjacent citrus crops more challenging (Dahl 1). However, students are now being educated on