As the California High-Speed Rail, or Speed Train, slowly begins to grow over its current $64 billion budget, it has become increasingly debated both in the state of California as well as throughout the United States on whether the benefits of the speed train will be worth the costs. The initial budget was approximately $40 billion, so there are questions on whether this project is feasible and should be continued. However, when we consider the numerous benefits of the California speed train, we can see that the benefits still outweigh the costs of the project, as there will be more long-term economic and environmental benefits for the state that justify the large costs and delays that are currently affecting its construction.
The California Speed Train is intended to connect San Francisco with Anaheim, and will eventually expand to reach major populated areas such as Sacramento and San Diego. Once created, the rail is expected to create nearly half a million permanent jobs, as this will be comprised of maintenance workers, ticket operators, engineers, and numerous other types of positions that the train will need for continued operations. It is important to note these are not temporary jobs associated with the construction of the rail, but permanent jobs. In addition to these permanent jobs, there will also be numerous workers employed for the rail’s construction, so the basic economic benefit here is that there will be more jobs, which in turn is expected to improve the overall California economy.
The environmental benefits include greatly reducing amounts of carbon dioxide, or CO2, with an estimated savings of ten million metric tons of CO2 by the year 2040. These savings are expected from the amount pollution that is currently generated on California’s freeways. Many commuters regularly make the trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles and its surrounding areas, and this has a cumulative effect on the number of drivers congesting freeways currently. Once the Speed Train is operational, however, it will provide commuters with a much more convenient and more economically friendly way to travel. While projections on saving in CO2 emissions is only predicted up through 2040, w can see how much can be saved through long-term operation of the Speed Train, which will have a considerable benefit on the local environment.
In addition to creating jobs and reducing the amount of toxic emissions released by automobiles, the Speed Train is also expected to boost local economies of several communities in need of rejuvenation. For instance, the San Joaquin Valley is currently considered to be one community in need of economic rejuvenation. The Speed Train will make accessing this area more feasible for tourists, which in turn will spur economic activity in the region. Many areas along the main route should see similar benefits, as the increased connectivity between these regions will make travel easier, and provide additional employment options for persons living in economically depressed areas because of the convenient commuting option that will be provided with the Speed Train.
Overall, the California High-Speed Rail has experienced some setbacks with its construction, as it has gradually grown over budget by nearly half of its original operating budget. This has created some criticisms regarding the plan. However, when we consider the economic and environmental benefits the train will provide, we can see how the short term costs associated with its construction will be mitigated by the long term benefits. Even if the completed project takes twenty years to recover its original costs, every year beyond this will represent a significant amount of savings, not to mention the environmental benefits that will be created once the Speed Train is completed.