Train Travel Is Important For The Valley

By  John Derby
Times Publisher
June 23, 2016

Last Friday’s announcement that Amtrak will be increasing its train runs in the valley to seven times a day could not come at a better time. Train travel for the future of this valley is so important.
It also comes during the summer when vacationers will have the opportunity to make more and better use of Amtrak, one of the best bargains that this nation offers.
The other reason is that the number of cars on our roads and the pollutants they leave are just staggering. We can’t keep pace with the demand for travel in this state if we expect to accomplish this with more roads and more cars.
One of the worst things to ever happen in California was when the gas companies conned the public into thinking train travel wasn’t important, and they talked cities into tearing up their rails. Now we wish we had those rails back.
While Amtrak is not the total answer to California’s transit problem, it is a start in the right direction.
We feel that it is essential to link Amtrak with BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to take passengers to the Bay Area.
The future of a High Speed Rail system is still obscure. Will it ever be built? Will the trains ever run 200 mph? Will people use them?
These are questions which only time will tell.
We are not saying stop spending money on High Speed Rail. Once the tracks are in, they can be used by all kinds of trains; high speed, medium speed, or just improved regular transit.
After spending three weeks in South Korea, we noticed that the way people were moved in Seoul was with an excellent subway system with six different lines taking passengers anywhere in the area. The cost was only about one $1, and the trains went for miles in every direction.
Korea was lucky because it got to start all new after the war.
Our valley is built up, and it is unfortunate a high speed rail system will take up farm land, however, the competition between urban sprawl and farmland has been going on for decades in California.
Just think how much farmland has been taken over by roadways.
Last Friday when Amtrak unveiled its new seven daily runs at a special event held at the Merced Amtrak station, almost every civic leader and nearly every political representative was present. They all wanted to show consolidated support for the improvement which would take more people off the roads and put them in trains.
We cheer the improvement, and want to see more like it.


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