It is absurd for a state that prides itself on leadership and innovation to have such a heavy and vocal opposition to something that embodies those very principles – high-speed rail.
With an ever-teetering economy and an increasing population, our future as leaders and innovators depends on a varied, more efficient infrastructure for transportation that allows for an increased capacity for traveling and commuting. If we want to provide a foundation for a stable economy for the millennial generation and those after, we must invest in infrastructure projects that will provide just that.
Millennials are fast moving, and high-speed rail provides a transportation infrastructure to support that. The high-speed rail network would provide many benefits for millennials by offering faster travel and more job opportunities – both directly through the addition of high-speed rail jobs and the ability to commute to a wider variety of job markets, and indirectly through the increased job opportunities that will be seen with a thriving economy, for which high-speed rail can lay the foundation.
A person could easily live in Fresno and work in San Francisco or Los Angeles, which would not only stimulate the economy but also reduce the brain-drain phenomenon that plagues the Central Valley. The fast travel also would benefit college students by allowing them to arrive home for the holidays or summer break without the hassle of the airport or the risks associated with traveling in a car.
This $68 billion project will provide access to advanced technological job opportunities for millennials, allowing these Californians the ability to work with technologies that people in other countries have worked with for years, as well as allowing these young minds to help advance these technologies, making them better, safer, and more efficient.
Not only will that increase the value of this generation by providing experience to young engineers, builders and tradesmen, it will stimulate the local economies with immediate job growth for young professionals who might otherwise leave to find work elsewhere.
We all want the economy to grow, and we all want to see an expanded opportunity to realize the American Dream. California can accomplish just that, but we need to invest in the infrastructure that will allow future generations to move freely and efficiently.
High-speed rail is the foundation for the future of California and the entire country; we should utilize this opportunity, rather than squander it.
If we provide a basis for faster, more efficient travel, better job opportunities, and access to new technologies, we will lay the groundwork to allow the millennial populations to more fully leverage resources to assist in the growth of the economy.
We must remind ourselves that high-speed rail is not solely being built for us, but more so for the generations after us. If there is one thing that is for sure, #iwillride.
Arthur Koster is vice president of the Fresno City College chapter of I Will Ride.