While the future of the 3-C passenger rail line linking Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati seemingly hangs in the electoral balance, other cities across the country have recently received federal funding to move ahead with multi-modal visions. While Ohio was passed by in the latest round of TIGER funding, Moline, Illinois and Des Moines, Iowa have gotten regional transportation projects largely funded.
The competition is not just heating up among Midwestern cities, it is truly global. China aims to have 10,000 miles of high speed rail in place by 2012. A high speed line linking Shanghai to Hangzhou opened this week, using local technology to hit a world speed record. The train can hit 260 miles per hour, making the 126 mile trip in 45 minutes.
Why does this matter? Check out the above graphic that shows 24 hours of airline travel in the U.S. (you can view it animated here). One-third of all of our air-travel trips are less than 350 miles. High speed rail provides a much more convenient, comfortable and efficient alternative to short-hop flights, reduces pollution and increases economic competitiveness.
It is critical that Ohio cities, state departments and the private sector coordinate on multi-modal transit plans so that we can secure funding when opportunities arise, and that we keep advancing plans for the 3-C rail line. Only then can Ohio and its cities be competitive in the 21st Century.
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