The following post is by BlueGreen Alliance intern Natasha Patel.
On Friday California lawmakers in San Francisco approved billions of dollars in construction financing for the nation’s first high-speed rail line that would connect Los Angeles to San Francisco.
The approval from the state Senate followed intense lobbying from Governor Jerry Brown and various Democratic leaders, environmental, and labor groups throughout California.
The bill while controversial to some due to an extensive budget of $68 billion, would be a positive step forward towards securing a green future for California. To accommodate California’s growing population of 37 million, the high-speed rail line would create thousands of jobs in the construction, operations, and maintenance sectors; providing much needed relief from California’s higher than average unemployment rate.
Not only would it bring many jobs to California in those sectors, but traveling throughout the state would be easier for tourists and citizens alike, enhanced by integration with other transportation modes along the line, to include airports and transit systems. By reducing traffic congestion and associated air pollution, these benefits would improve quality of life, result in cleaner air throughout the state, and boost economic productivity, potentially creating more economic and employment growth.
The success of California’s rail line would benefit the nation by catalyzing development of high-speed rail lines and other forms of rail and integrated transit nationwide. This has the potential to create more jobs by expanding the US market for rail and transit infrastructure and vehicles, encouraging further development of these industries and increase U.S competitiveness in the global clean transportation market.
Investments in high-speed rail infrastructure will contribute billions of dollars to the United States’ net annual gross domestic product and provide billions of dollars in additional worker income and annual tax revenue, spurring additional growth throughout the economy.
High-speed rail will not only help to maintain and create jobs, it will also move people to and from their jobs. Businesses located near high-speed rail stations with good access to public transportation will experience more employee reliability and less absenteeism and turnover. Employers have a larger labor pool from which to choose, and employees are happier because they are not driving in congestion delays.
The Transportation Manufacturing Plan (TMAP) details these many benefits of a stronger public transportation system in the U.S, including expanding the domestic production of advanced transit systems, vehicles, clean trucks, and their component parts.
According to TMAP, increasing current federal investment to $30 billion per year for public transit and $10 billion per year for intercity and high-speed rail will create 3.7 million direct and indirect jobs throughout the U.S, greatly strengthening our declining economy while aiding in the fight against global climate change.