CALPIRG Students Rally for High Speed Rail

It’s no surprise that CALPIRG is a strong supporter of High Speed Rail for California.  While the rest of L.A. County was holding their breath on the L.A. County transit tax ballot proposition known as Measure R in 2008, CALPIRG was more concerned with a state bonding proposition that would set aside billions for the California High Speed Rail Project.

The students from yesterday's CALPIRG event also love a fast train. Photo: Anne Ohliger/CALPIRG

Back then, most people thought of California High Speed Rail as the future of transportation for the state.  High Speed rail was imagined as fast quiet trains zooming through the country-side connecting the major cities and other attractions.  Over the last three years, High Speed Rail has taken a beating in the public, with accusations of incompetence and corruption hurled at the project’s Board of Directors.  Nationally, the idea of fast moving trains has become a political hot potatoe because President Obama likes the idea which means that Republicans have to hate it.

For example, these are two headlines that didn’t make the morning headlines roundup: With Little Hope for Near-Term Federal Support, California High Speed Rail Struggles, and Congress Is Broken and CHSR Pays the Price.

But yesterday at Union Station, on the same day that U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer announced a “mark-up” of legislation to renew the federal transportation funding package, a group of CALPIRG’s students rallied to remind voters, and the Senator, that High Speed Rail is a winning proposition for California regardless of what’s going on with the politicians and appointed members of the state CAHSR Board.

“As students, we know that our broken, outdated, and oil dependent transportation system needs to change,” said Josh Joiner, CALPIRG Students Campaign Leader.  ”With California’s population expected to hit 50 million by 2035, we can’t afford to just keep building more congested highways and airport runways that will cost us more money and keep us stuck in traffic, stuck on security lines at the airport, and ever more dependent on oil. Our transportation system alone consumes more oil than any country in the world besides China.”

Last week, the Senate voted against President Obama’s Jobs Bill, which contained $4 billion in funding for increased U.S. high speed rail capacity.  Part of today’s rally was to push for his provision’s inclusion  in follow up legislation to be considered by Congress in the coming weeks.

Students members of CALPIRG also asked passerbyers to snap a picture of themself holding an “I love trains” sign to Senators Boxer and Feinstein to show their support for High Speed Rail.  The good news is that both Senators have expressed support for High Speed Rail, and other forms of rail travel, in the past with Boxer releasing a press release every time USDOT gives more funds to the California project.