Barack Obama’s election to the presidency wasn’t the only sustainable choice on the ballot last Tuesday. Californians voted in favor of an 800 mile high speed train system that will stop in every major city from Sacramento to San Diego. According to the High Speed Rail Authority, California is the 12th largest source of greenhouse gas emission on earth, 41% of which come from transportation. Traveling at 220 miles per hour, the trains will reduce greenhouse gases by up to 12.7 billion pounds annually, the equivalent of removing 1 million cars from the road each year. Set to begin construction as early as 2011, California’s high speed rail will create 450,000 new jobs and reduce dependence on foreign oil by 12 million barrels a year.
Californians waste countless hours and tanks of gas sitting on congested freeways and idling at stop lights. If population trends continue, by 2030 the state could have up to 100 million people, more than doubling its current number of about 40 million. California’s new FLY trains will use on average 1/3 the amount of energy required for air travel and 1/5 that of car travel.
As with any project as ambitious as 800 miles of high speed rail, there’s a strong opposition. Opponents to the proposition claim that energy-saving predictions are inflated and taxpayer costs underestimated. If California’s train project reaches even half of its proposed goals of reducing greenhouse gases, dependence on foreign oil, and freeway congestion I think its worth the expense. The United States is the among world’s largest oil consumers and contributors to greenhouse gases. Its high time we take some cues from European and Asian countries and develop efficient alternatives to driving and flying. Visit Newlands & Company for dozens of videos and renderings.