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cities in a number of corridors. Congress followed that lead by
passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It
contained $8 billion dollars intended to provide start-up funding
for proposed high-speed rail projects in several states.
The Case for High-Speed Trains
Have you ever made that grueling four-plus-hour drive across
the desert from Los Angeles to Las Vegas? A train like the TGV
could get you there in two hours in air-conditioned comfort. And
the trip from L.A. to San Francisco would take just over two-
and-a-half hours. High-speed trains would bring about equally
dramatic changes in the travel habits of people across the coun-
try—in the Northwest, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, and Vancouver
would be connected; in the East, Philadelphia would be linked
with Harrisburg and Pittsburgh; in Florida, people could go from
either Tampa or Miami to Disney World in Orlando. High-speed
rail lines should be linking Chicago with any number of cities,
including St. Louis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Cincin-
nati, and Detroit. In Canada, the corridor from Windsor through
Ottawa and Montreal to Quebec is a textbook opportunity for
high-speed rail.
Until very recently, there's been no support from Washing-
ton. The future of any kind of a national passenger rail system
has often been in doubt, because influential Republican voices in
Congress have been quite willing to let Amtrak wither and die.
One of the budgets offered by former President George W. Bush
actually recommended zero funding for Amtrak, which would
have forced the railroad to shut down within 90 days. It's a posi-
tion that's hard to understand, given the obvious popularity and
success of rail travel in all these other countries. Why have we
been so reluctant to learn from them? When hearing about inno-
vations within his own field, a shrewd and successful banker
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