This Viewpoint is regarding a column by Dan Walters titled, “Bullet train ridership forecast takes a hit” (July 5).
In his column, Walters makes reference to a report that questions the demand for the state’s proposed bullet train system.
More than questioning the report and Walter’s views, there seems to be an overall lack of leadership by both parties to encourage what California and the nation sorely need: a fast, efficient train system.
The state and the nation lack a modern mass-transit system, but simultaneously have for years complained about worsening commuter traffic, car pollution and the unsustainable costs that go into our aging roads and infrastructure (not to mention an increasing population that may make these issues worse in time).
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Many industrialized nations enjoy the benefits of having modern light-rail and bullet-rail systems, but California and America are getting further and further behind the curve. The longer they wait to make such long-term investments, the more difficult and expensive it will become.
Cities such as Portland, Ore., made a conscious decision long ago to make a major investment in a prolific light-rail system that is now the envy of many cities and states across the nation, and it is paying off handsomely for them, their residents and visitors.
This issue requires leadership and forward thinking. As for the impact, having a bullet-train system in California would likely stimulate the economy and get more cars off roads.
It would also stimulate the tourism industry, which is vital to the state’s prosperity. It might even create more intrastate tourism. Walters and the report pose the question: “If you build it, will they come?” Although it begs the statement: “If you don’t build it, they cannot come.” Michael E. Manchak is the president and CEO of the Economic Vitality Corporation of San Luis Obispo County.