Transportation Crisis This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

September 17, 2010
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Aircraft and automobiles carry the vast majority of American passengers; however, both systems are inefficient with regard to environmental sustainability. America’s clogged runways and congested roadways are in desperate need of a transportation alternative to alleviate this problem. I believe the answer lies in an extensive high-speed train system. However, high-speed rail travel is not a new concept; the Shinkansen line of Japanese high-speed rail opened between Tokyo and Osaka in 1964.

For the past four years, I have studied the cello in Arlington, Virginia, driving with my parents the 80 miles from our home in Winchester to Northern Virginia. Unfortunately, there is no public transportation system to connect most towns and cities in my state. This trip is an hour-and-a-half to two-hour commute on overcrowded four lane highways traveling over 60 miles per hour. A train line, connecting Winchester and the surrounding area to the Northern Virginia/Washington D.C. area would greatly reduce the travel time and environmental impact, and perhaps encourage interest in Washington D.C.’s cultural resources.

The use of an extensive train network, including high-speed rail, remains a plausible alternative to effectively transport millions of Americans daily and greatly reduce air pollution. I have seen firsthand the effectiveness of an extensive rail network during a family vacation to Germany. A high-speed rail system will alleviate traffic on the road and runway, save millions of lives from tragic automobile accidents, and stimulate our weak economy by providing thousands of jobs in one of the largest and most important public works construction projects in America’s history. Furthermore, a high-speed rail system would greatly reduce America’s dependence on oil, thus reducing the risk of massive oil spills, such as the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Importantly, renewable energy sources need to be improved as a source of energy to power the trains. An extensive train system has been an integral part of transportation in Japan, France, and Germany for many years and now in the twenty-first century has proven its necessity in America.

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