Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I'm a strong believer in the idea that our country's decision to invest roughly $200 billion in the interstate was one of the first missteps we took on the road toward the unsustainable sprawl set-up we have today.
This article further bolsters my view of that. Indeed, it appears that as we were investing in miles upon miles of concrete as our near exclusive national approach to moving people and products, many other developed countries (including a recently defeated Japan) were opting to incorporate effective rail travel as a key component of their transportation strategy.
The real kicker is that many of these nations were actually using American technology to do this:
So carelessly tossed away by our policymakers and politicians, the American streamliner did not simply die during those dismal decades of the 1950s and 1960s. Instead, it rose from the ashes as its key technological features moved overseas, welcomed by a visionary group of railroaders.
This is what happens when you starve a business for 60 years. It becomes stunted. Our passenger rail system is stunted today not because of some inevitable law of economics or natural outgrowth of competition. It’s stunted because of longstanding government policy that thoughtlessly, absentmindedly, let some wonderful American-made technology slip away.
Now, granted, the United States is larger than most of these countries (though, today, China is building fast, advanced trains across wide swaths of its landscape). So, connecting everywhere in the U.S. would be difficult. However, that doesn't relieve the fact that we could have (and possibly still could) adopt a deliberate strategy of connecting major metro areas with fast trains that are much more energy efficient.
Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.