Len E. Idaho

America's Trains

America's rail system is far behind many countries. It's time we made the change. It's time to get up to speed.

Dear President,

Do you know the top speed of Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train? It’s 320 mph. America leads the world in nearly every field, so why not our rail system? Let’s face it: Electric high-speed rail is cleaner, safer, and just better for any area. Yet, our country just has a bullet train operating from Boston to Washington DC and one under construction in Los Angeles. The fact we’re just now warming up to them doesn’t make any sense. So you know what? America needs to replace its trains. America needs to get up to speed.

But why haven’t we thought like Japan, Spain, China, and countless others? Part of it's the rather large expenses that would need to be paid. Other people say we should maintain relations with the Middle East oil industry. Still others say they wouldn’t bother because they like their cars. Well, they ought to rethink their opinions. All the benefits that a bullet train could offer will most definitely change the most stubborn person’s mind.

Let’s begin with the cleanliness of these wonders working at breakneck speed. We all know that mass transit means less cars and less traffic. But our buses still emit tons of foul fumes, are a bit gross, and still not all that fast. This is where our Train in Shining Armor descends on the problem: According to California Watch and Tim Sheehan, “the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority expect that the electric trains could reduce traffic on the state’s roadways by 2.5 percent by 2035.” And that 2.5 percent is just talking about the “Murky” project, which is only one train. Now imagine these zipping all over the country carrying excited people bragging to their friends about how they cheated the freeway system. And you know what else that would mean? Less people in cars that let out the worst kind of gas imaginable. Ahh… I can sense bluer skies already. Of course, there’s still plenty more problems these can fix.

Do you remember the recent NJ Transit train crash in Hoboken? Do you remember how it killed one woman and injured over a hundred others? It turns out that there’s a major or minor train crash in the United States every other day on average, according to a USA Today study. Now let’s head on over to Japan, where their Shinkansen system hasn’t a wreck since 1964. And it makes sense too. Their system is completely automated, leaving human error a distant memory. That’s the main reason for almost every disaster, isn’t it? So unless, president, you want more crashes and a higher death toll, I suggest that your workers start breaking ground immediately.

But wait, there’s more! The economy’s been having a few problems recently, hasn’t it? Is unemployment a big one? I’ve got a solution: start putting bullet trains everywhere. It won’t just create temporary jobs involving building the tracks though, you see, for a fast and cheap mode of transportation is just what some rural families need to get jobs in the more industrial areas of the country. It’s a double whammy really… a big construction project for some and an opportunity for others to get in the game. Wow, cleaner air, safer transport, cheaper transport, and more jobs? What could be better than having electric, high-speed rail sweeping the nation? For some strange reason, though, looks like we’ve got some people who still won’t buy it.

When I look at reasons why Americans haven't innovated in this area, I see things like “America is too used to having their own personal car for every single thing they want to do, leaving mass transit unused.” Look, I’m not suggesting that you never use your car again and turn it in for a hunk of scrap metal; what I’m trying to say is that you don’t need your car for everything. Most people could stand to walk a little more anyway. You’d most likely use these trains for inter-city travelling, maybe for a hop across town, or possibly for a recreational desire you suddenly have. There’s a sweet spot for these trains: about a three hour journey. It's a little long of a journey for a car, but too close for a plane to do the job instead. You can still use your car, but the option of having a bullet train there to whisk you away is pretty tempting in my mind, and I’m fairly certain other people feel the same way.

Think about it: Bullet trains outweigh all the lingering doubts you may have about them. They are clean, safe, cheap, and of course, very, very fast. So what are we waiting for? President, it’s time we benefit our environment and our people.

Thank you for your time,

Len E.

East Junior High

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