High-speed rail system would be beneficial for traveling in Texas

Special to the Star

Texas needs a high-speed rail as a method of transportation.

High-speed rail really does not exist in the United States. The fastest train in America connects Washington, D.C. to New York City at a speed with which an everyday passenger car can compete. In China, old diesel trains that once ran for nine hours from Changsha to Guangzhou have been updated with high-speed trains that service the same distance in two hours, which is seven hours faster than the diesel counterpart.

It is a known fact that Texas is huge. Driving from Houston to Fort Worth is the same distance as traveling from Brownsville to San Antonio. Both road trips require four hours and cover well over 250 miles.

Driving long distances can be burdensome and expensive. Even with a fuel-efficient vehicle, a round trip between North and Central Texas will hover around $50. The same round trip by SUV or pickup truck will cost about twice that. This cost is a burden to many.

According to a Jan. 29 Ft. Worth Star-Telegram article, recent reports show the divide between the “have-nots” and the “have yachts” (the divide between the rich and the poor) in Texas is growing. It only makes sense to provide Texans with transportation that is faster, more accessible and less expensive than owning a car or riding a bus. High-speed rail does just that.

Similar to high-speed rail is commuter rail, a method of transportation comparable in price and convenience. Already, commuter rail between Dallas and Fort Worth via the Trinity Rail Express runs at an affordable $7.50. This ticket price includes one-day round trip service and fare for other light-rail options in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The distance between these two cities is almost identical to the distance between Austin and San Marcos. Think about it. San Marcos is 30-some-odd miles from Austin. This is a typically short distance, yet because Central Texas lacks mass transit options seen in other metropolitan areas, for the financially disadvantaged person who owns no vehicle, Austin is typically out of reach.

Paying $10, $20 or even $35 for a high-speed rail ticket would be worth it if high-speed rail travel became an option in Texas. People who own no vehicle or those looking for an alternative route to travel need not be concerned about fuel prices, vehicle maintenance, insurance and toll roads.

For many, convenience is slightly more important than affordability. The IH-35 corridor is constantly harped by the masses as slow and flawed. IH-35 is congested as it is not only commonplace for commuters but also a North American Free Trade Agreement corridor. Considering the volume of vehicles and cargo trucks, a six-lane freeway transporting goods and people between Austin, San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth and Northern Mexico is a weak system for efficiency and everyday commuters.

High-speed and commuter rail options are great for everyone. Even though I own a fuel-efficient vehicle, if I had the affordable option to travel across Texas quickly while reading a book or taking a nap, I would choose that route any day.