Biden touted his new infrastructure plans on Friday afternoon, which call for a massive expansion of passenger rail service in Georgia.
"Imagine a two-hour train ride between Atlanta and Charlotte, going at speeds of 220 miles an hour," the president said at an event promoting his $80 billion Amtrak expansion plan in Philadelphia.
The proposal also calls for Amtrak train service from Atlanta to Macon, Savannah, Nashville, and Auburn, Alabama.
"We have to build back better, and today we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity," Biden said while standing in front of a high-speed Acela train in the rail yard of Philly’s 30th St. Station. "Amtrak and inner-city rail as well, in general, to play a central role in our transformation and transportation economic future, to make investments that can help America get back on track, no pun intended."
Outside of the Greyhound Bus station in downtown Atlanta, a few people who rely on public transportation to get around the region said they think hopping on a train would be more convenient and comfortable than the bus.
"The tightness, no room, and all the stinky smell from the bathrooms," said Tony Cleveland, who was traveling to South Carolina.
Loren Hubbard, who was getting ready to go back home to Tallahassee, Florida, said she thinks the bus can be too time-consuming and indirect.
"The bus will take you way out the way," Hubbard said. "I mean, I might go to Birmingham to get to Florida. At least with the train, at least with the train, you’re going straight where you got to go."
However, Dr. Ray Hill, a Senior Lecturer in Finance at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, said with the price tag of the expansion in the billions, the cost to taxpayers outweighs the benefit. "
"We know that rail and particularly high-speed rail only works in very densely populated corridors in Japan, in the northeast of the United States, in places like that," Hill said in a phone interview. "It just makes no sense to spend public money on something like that.
If Congress goes through with Biden’s proposal, Amtrak aims to add as many as 30 new routes and expand service on 20 existing routes nationally by 2035.
"This is Amtrak’s vision for growth, which includes input from state and local stakeholders," said Kimberly Woods, a spokesperson for Amtrak. "If Congress provides sufficient funding to Amtrak, we would work with these states and local partners, as well as with USDOT, to improve existing and build new corridors.
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