Feb 1, 2010

High Speed Rail vs Space Travel

We live in central Florida where the large transportation issues of high speed rail and travel in space have been in the news this week. For our area it seems to be a good news bad news scenario both related to President Obama's view of the world.

The good news is that the President was in Tampa last week to announce the possible construction of a "high speed"(it will only go up to 160mph where fast trains in Europe and Asia easily go above 200mph?)rail between Orlando's airport and downtown Tampa with a few stops in between at Disney and Lakeland, Fl. Any futuristic look at transportation and consideration that the price of oil will definitely increase is sound planning and we applaud the decision. (Funny that the Disneyworld monorail system which was fairly forward thinking when launched in the mid 70's now seems old and frail and in need of upgrading. So even though Orlando is a young town we have had state-of-the-art rail in the past)

It is hard to say if the rail would be successful. We are still a bit unclear of which population this rail line will serve. Is it Tampa folk going to Disney? That could be a potentially large group of people especially in the winter when the Florida population swells with snowbirds in the Tampa bay area. There would certainly be business travelers going from Orlando to Tampa and back for a days work.

Of course getting to the fast rail for a rider may be a problem. Yes there will be buses and surely there will be car parks where one can leave their car for the time they are on the train. One prob though is that in Orlando the newly planned Metro rail covering 5 or so counties along the Interstate 4 route thru Orlando will not meet up with the high speed rail to Tampa as of now.

The ostensible bad news for Central Florida is that the new Obama fiscal 2011 US Federal Budget axed the GW Bush plans under the giant moniker of Constellation for returning man to the moon.
Is this good or bad?
Depends on who you speak with. Some, including us, feel that deep space flight is very good for the Americas and the world since it forces man to think about how to do things he may not normally do. The number of discoveries that translated to commercial products used by many and necessitated by deep space flight is quite numerous.

We are highly disappointed and blame the fact on the numerous wars since the Apollo project that man has not gone to Mars. It seems inexcusable to us since man's travel to Mars would teach us a great deal that might help save Earth or show us how fragile and special Earth is.

Space will be the final frontier and putting off it's exploration is only stalling the inevitable. Likewise those with a space presence will have a leg up on other Earthlings. So it seems we are ceding that superority to the Chinese this day. Yes the hope is that the consortium led attack of life in space as has been pretty successfully demonstrated by the Space Station is the way to go. As long as the nations that participate in this collegial approach get along we also feel it is the way to go and may draw nations together but for the short term the Chinese will do their own thing which may lead to trouble if they have ever have a North Korean style leader running things.

So the choice has been made by the current government to push the domestic over the foreign. In this case domestic rail over foreign travel outside of this Earth. We are all for rail but we are all for space flight as well. We feel we could and should have both.

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