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Californians vote for rail over airports

by Alan Harten
April 3, 2009

A recent survey by a public opinion firm indicates a majority of those car and plane loving Californians are in favour of plans for a new high speed rail link between San Francisco and LA.

Two thousand registered voters took part in the survey, and fifty six percent would be in favour, even if it meant airport activity was reduced.

Only seventeen percent voted against the new proposals.

The main concern of those against was how much a new link would cost taxpayers.

A small percentage of those against regarded enforcing mandates, which would force commuters over to rail travel, as unacceptable.

A flight between the two cities, from San Francisco’s main airport, or major airports of San Jose and Oakland, takes around 2 hours.

It’s predicted the journey by rail would be just under three hours.

Fifteen percent of voters were against the new link, because they considered this too long.

However, add up the time taken to travel to the airport, check in, pass through security checks and actually get in your seat, and flying to LA can actually take around four hours, plus getting to and from airports usually accrues extra travel expenses.

This is something Rod Diridon, of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, believes most people know, and they voted positively to the plans.

When the same negative voters were asked if a two and half hour rail journey would be acceptable, almost eighty percent replied “yes”.

Diridon predicts a one way flight from SF to LA, will cost more than a one way trip using the new link.

Interestingly, the people who voted in favour were assuming fare costs would be equal.

The demand for domestic flights would be expected to reduce, if and when a high speed rail link was added, regardless of whether a mandate was enforced.

A Spokesman for San Francisco’s International airport stated they were in favour of the proposals, believing the improved access to major airports, via the new High Speed link, would compensate for any losses.

High Speed Links in Europe, for example London to Paris, did create shifts in the travel market, yet no mandates were ever enforced.

San Francisco airport administrators are in favour of integration, and are unaware of any official plans to enforce mandates.

In fact, they’re even unaware of who commissioned the survey in the first place.

Only eleven percent of voters believed a high speed train service to be unnecessary.

Many leading US politicians also support the idea, including California’s own Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

If Arnie was to take action, the $29.1 million needed could be found to get the project underway.

During his appearance on this week’s Sunday Show, Schwarzenegger said, “everyone gets stuck in traffic. There’s no reason why we should get stuck in traffic”.

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