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Report: High-speed train good for economy, environment

Report says high-speed rail would create jobs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.KQEDReport says high-speed rail would create jobs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Scientists say a California high-speed rail system will not only get you from San Francisco to Los Angeles in less than three hours, but will create thousands of jobs and eliminate millions of pounds of carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere.

At least that’s what they're saying in a new report released by the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Irvine.

The transportation researchers estimate the train will require one-fifth the total energy, per passenger, of a typical single-occupancy car – and one-tenth the energy of a commercial airplane.

The high-speed rail plan also calls for 100 percent renewable energy for the rail network, which would virtually eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the system.

Together, the researchers forecast a carbon dioxide emissions reduction of nearly a half-billion pounds by the year 2035.

But that’s not all, say the authors of the report.

The network will create more than 320,000 permanent jobs statewide as a result of the economic development associated with the rail stations – a boon to an economy that is dealing with a 12% unemployment rate.

“Cities with a high-speed rail station will grow and transition into hubs of commerce. Regions with commuter connections to the high-speed rail system will take advantage of development opportunities,” California High-Speed Rail Authority Chairman Curt Pringle told Greenwire. “This report is a reminder that high-speed rail can provide communities tremendous opportunities to reinvent themselves and prosper in the process.”

But not everyone is buying this rosy outlook.

“Californians would be better off putting $40 billion in a pit and burning it,” said John Coupal, executive director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, an organization that opposes the high-speed rail system.

“The fare box revenue won’t cover a fraction of the operating costs” of the system, he said, making it a drain on the economy and the state’s general fund.

The 800-mile line will connect San Francisco to Los Angeles, with extensions to Anaheim, Sacramento and San Diego.

The Irvine report focused on the Anaheim to Los Angeles leg, which will likely be the first built.

California received $2.34 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to build the high-speed rail. In 2008, Californians approved Proposition 1A, which allowed the state to use $9.95 billion in bonds to create a high-speed transit system.

Experts estimate the total cost to build the system at around $45 billion.

 

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