October 16, 2009
So, for those of you not following US rail politics, earlier this year the House passed its 2010 spending bill on transportation allocating 4 billion to high speed rail, but the Senate’s version is a measly 1.2 billion; capital improvements on already existing airports, on the other hand, are getting 3.5 billion in both bills. They’re working it out in committee now, and you should tell them to make sure high speed rail gets the four billion.
You’re probably wondering why the hell I’m posting about this. Yes, I’m an environmentalist, but that isn’t really the point. Yes, compared to a direct flight, 110-220mph rail would reduce total travel time (including public transit to and from the airport/station, and time spent at station/airport) dramatically not only on short trips like Chicago to Milwaukee or ≤400 mi trips like Chicago to St Louis (slightly shorter than a trip between Tokyo and Osaka) or Minneapolis, but even an 800 mile trip from Chicago to New York City would take a similar amount of time, and less money (and much more accessible for the large numbers of us that are poor). As with single-payer health insurance, I really doubt anyone who’s lived anywhere where high speed rail was prevalent needs selling on it.
But as important as environmental, economic, and convenience reasons are, trans folks (and undocumented immigrants) have a lot more at stake–specifically, airport “security.” Airports are not a good place to be trans, and they keep getting worse–with body scanners and mandatory gender reporting at flight booking on top of the ID checks, “randomized” pat down searches, and sexually harassing/invasive baggage inspection (e.g. putting the “inspected” tag around a dildo or packer, or confiscating sex toys/floggers/etc) that we’re already used to. Railway stations, on the other hand, have minimal-if-any such procedures putting trans people at risk. (what are you going to do, hijack a train? And do what with it? You can’t exactly fly to Damascus with it, let alone into the WTC.)
So, in the interests of a transportation future that’s not so awful for trans folks, and in fact better for everybody, go support rail.
Midwest High Speed Rail Association
US High Speed Rail Association
National Association of Railway Passengers