Ross: A bullet train is great, but affordable housing is much better

Aug 17, 2023, 8:56 AM

bullet train affordable housing...

HUZHOU, CHINA - AUGUST 04: A Hangzhou Asian Games themed Fuxing high-speed train arrives at Deqing Railway Station during the first trial run with passengers on August 4, 2023 in Huzhou, Zhejiang Province of China. (Photo by Xie Shangguo/VCG via Getty Images)

(Photo by Xie Shangguo/VCG via Getty Images)

Faster than a speeding bullet and full of people who want to be somewhere else.

The Democrats in Washington’s congressional delegation will push for a $198 million dollar grant from the federal government to plan a bullet train linking Vancouver, BC, Seattle, and Portland.  A train so fast it would get you there in about a third of the time it takes now.

More from Dave Ross: The best way to handle the heat was doing something 30 years ago

The funding request says, “Providing a fast and efficient transportation system would allow people to live in less densely populated areas and work anywhere in the megaregion.”

Wait a minute, we’re building a bullet train so people have the option of living even farther away from where they need to go? Isn’t that the exact opposite of responsible environmentalism?

Now, I am not going to dismiss the idea of a bullet train because if I do, in fifty years, when it’s whisking people back and forth, Feliks Banel will replay my commentary and chuckle about it. And I am not going to give him the satisfaction.

What I will say, however, is that along with finding ways to move people much faster to more distant destinations, we should also give them the option of moving more slowly to closer destinations.

I would like to see a study into why we all need to travel so far. The main reason seems to be that too many people can’t afford to live anywhere near where they work.

So before building a big new commuter system, how about making it cheaper to live closer to work? Affordable housing shouldn’t just be about homelessness, it should also serve the thousands of people who would rather not face the stress of rush-hour driving.

Of course, the ability to drive anywhere, anytime is a sacred American freedom. But there are some of us who would like the freedom not to drive. There are some of us who would like to walk to work, or to the library, or to school, or the produce section. And not have to worry about express lanes, toll lanes, bike lanes, collector-distributor lanes, zipper merges, and the whole Monopoly-board highway system we have to navigate.

And as for the bullet train, if China can build one, then I’m sure we can too. But let’s remember, the bullet train between Beijing and Shanghai serves a population of 47 million people. The Portland-Seattle-Tacoma-Vancouver population is about 9 million.

At this point, anybody who needs to commute to Portland just needs to move there.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave's Commentary

KIRO Newsradio Opinion


Bill Kaczaraba

32-hour workweek becomes a reality in San Juan County

By unanimous vote, the San Juan County Council approved a 32-hour workweek for most employees.

53 minutes ago

trump milley speech...

Dave Ross

Ross: General Milley calls out Trump in retirement speech

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired last week after a 44-year career and gave a farewell speech that focused on the Constitution.

2 hours ago

FILE - The company logo shines off the hood of a 2021 K5 sedan on display in the Kia exhibit at the...

Micki Gamez

Gamez: What to know after recall issued for Kia, Hyundai vehicles over fires

Hyundai and Kia are recalling nearly 3.4 million vehicles in the U.S. and telling owners to park them outside due to the risk of engine compartment fires.

3 days ago

girls phones teach...

Colleen O'Brien

Colleen: Young girls and phones and the patterns we teach

I spoke to New York Times reporter Jessica Bennett, who studied 13-year-old girls for a year, to learn more about their relationship with phones

3 days ago


Ursula Reutin

Ursula: Does grammar still matter? Not according to UW

Jake Harper found that the University of Washington's Informatics department doesn't grade on grammar in students' applications.

3 days ago

republican debate...

Dave Ross

Ross: The highs and lows of the second 2024 Republican debate

As you’ve heard by now, there was considerable chaos during last night’s debate, including an argument between Tim Scott and Nikki Haley over the expensive curtains in her office.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Ross: A bullet train is great, but affordable housing is much better