Welcome to the future!
The future, apparently, involves lots of high-speed trains. These trains will move at slower speeds than airplanes, operate along fixed routes, and require billions of dollars in public funding. They will take you to your destination, where you must then rent a car or rely upon public transportation. In other words, they will be exactly the same as an airplane, except they will take longer and only serve a specific geographic area.
I'm willing to grant that some of the east coast lines might not be totally moronic. Certainly a waste of money and resources, but hey, that's what government is for. Some of the other lines, though, are something straight out of an Onion article.
1. a Keystone corridor running laterally through Pennsylvania: I'm not all that familiar with Pennsylvania, but is there really that much need for a lateral line? Doesn't driving a car cover this without requiring renting a car at the other end?
2. a southeast network connecting the District of Columbia to Florida and the Gulf Coast: this network exists. It involves planes, airports, and a fraction of the time spent traveling.
3. a Gulf Coast line extending from eastern Texas to western Alabama: this one has to be a joke.
4. a corridor in central and southern Florida: again, cars.
5. a Texas-to-Oklahoma line: I'm sure the 7 people riding this every week will appreciate it.
6. a California corridor where voters have already approved a line that will allow travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two and a half hours: how long does it take to drive this route? What's the real savings if a car has to be rented at the other end?
7. a corridor in the Pacific Northwest: I'm sure Seattle will appreciate a few billion federal dollars to mildly increase its tourism industry.
“What we need, then, is a smart transportation system equal to the needs of the 21st century,” [Obama] said
I know when I think about 21st century transportation, the first thing that springs to mind is a train.