High-Speed Rail in California?

Ezra mentions the various progressive outcomes possible from California ballot initiatives this year, including maintaining the legality of gay marriage and ensuring humane treatment of livestock. But the truly awesome and under-the-radar California ballot initiative is the attempt to build a $20 billion, high-speed, electric rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles, which would also meander through the state's suburban communities.

How cool would this be? A two-and-a-half hour ride between the two cities' downtowns would cost just $55 each way. Riding from New York City to Washington, D.C. can cost as much as $129 for a basic, one-way ticket! A summer poll showed the initiative gaining the support of 56 percent of voters. Some experts believe the economic crisis will make voters more cautious about approving large spending projects. But the high price of gasoline and concerns about global warming — not to mention the sheer convenience this rail line would provide — should keep the debate going. This is one to watch on election night, as the California project would be the United States' first experiment in high-speed rail, which is commonplace in Europe and Asia.

cross-posted at TAPPED

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