Anyone that travels internationally will usually convey enjoyment and awe at train efficiency in Europe or Japan. When you consider the overwhelming number of ridership not to mention a wonderfully efficient and clean mass transit system you have to wonder why this couldn’t be a staple of the American experience.
For starters, it was America that delivered the automobile as a form of independent travel requirements. However, long before the car was horse and buggy or the transcontinental railroad. As the automobile and flight grew into efficiency, the rail system seemed to be outsourced to the industry as a method of moving goods and services. People were and continue to be excluded from the rail experience in America because for some reason it is not efficient?
Despite Europe, Japan, China and other nations embracing rail need as a cost savings entity our country seems hell-bent at protecting the automobile. In fact, the stigma of not having an auto and opting for mass transit may accidentally label individuals as no longer qualified to drive because of legal reasons. Trains, buses, and mass transit have become a lesser standard of independence and status whereas the automobile is valued as a personal statement. Watching motorists with oversized SUV’s perhaps squeaking out 12 miles per gallon driving alone doesn’t entirely demonstrate our willingness to become more sustainable. Instead, sustainability is nothing more than a marketing word that people use when separating waste materials.
What if the United States began to reinvest in the rail system once again? Sure, it will be an expensive endeavor. The expense comes at a cost because we have neglected a system created a hundred years ago preceding to high-speed interstate highways with overrun budgets and periodic surface repavings. The last time Amtrak introduced a new high-speed locomotive was the in the year 2000 when the Acela Express entered service. That indicates that Federal Transportation Administration is not concerned with replacing aged out rail locomotives. To make matters worse, the Acela Express broke apart in early 2018. If this were an aircraft, there would be orders and inspections to ensure the highest level of public safety. As for the typical U.S. rail system, it is viewed as the lower tier of service. In fact, bus travel is higher than rail service because of the limited destinations trains may travel.
A reason we don’t have a bullet train in America is that we don’t have the right rail system and protections in place to allow high-speed rail. Additionally, there is no competition with Amtrak whereas Ford, Chevrolet, and other automakers share the same roads. Moreover, the typical American transportation hub doesn’t create a practical design where trains, planes, and buses meet at an apex point. Instead, planes are at remote airports, buses are located on the shady side of town, and train stations… well, if you find one, let me know. America created the design flaw, and perhaps the automotive industry had its fingers in the pie to allow that to occur.
With all the talk about a hyperloop system seems somewhat like a fantasy scene from the Jetson’s cartoon. Why on earth would a hyperloop work in American when we cant even develop and maintain a capable working rail system? Sure, it sounds impressive, and personally, I would celebrate the day such an endeavor reaches the average American. However, I am not as optimistic because a hyperloop must endure the same identical bureaucratic standards as the rails system or anywhere land is developed. In the meantime, I will keep watching the Jetson’s and pretending we live in such a world.