Atlanta mayor wants high-speed rail from city to Savannah

by: Diana Davis Updated:

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ATLANTA - Plans are under way for a high-speed train that would take residents from Atlanta to the state’s coast faster than you can drive from one end of metro Atlanta to the other end.

It takes about four hours to drive to Savannah, but Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said a new rail line could get you there in just over an hour.

“It would be my dream to have a high speed rail that would allow you to get off work at 5 o'clock and be in Savannah by 6:15,” he said.

Nonstop flights Channel 2 looked up on major airlines take about the same time.

Channel 2's Diana Davis talked to Barach Feigenbaum, a transportation policy analyst who believes the idea of whisking landlocked Atlantans to the historic squares of Savannah and the beaches of Tybee Island on high speed rail is no more than a pipe-dream.

“While it sounds good, in reality, it doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense,” Feigenbaum said.
                    
Reed said plans for deepening the Savannah port along with the resources of the Atlanta airport mean high-speed rail makes economic sense for both Atlanta and Savannah.
         
“Many of the world’s leading cities have great airport and great ports,” Reed said. “And so, you've got 5.5 million people in the metro area. Just imagine if they could get to Savannah on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday.”

Feigenbaum told Davis the only profitable high-speed rail lines are those in Japan, France and the Acela line from Washington D.C to Boston. He said there simply aren’t enough people in the corridor between Savannah and Atlanta to make high-speed rail travel work.

“When you look at the number of travelers you need, it’s not at all enough,” he said.
                   
Feigenbaum said it makes more sense to invest in improving Atlanta's existing transit and roads.

“Some of the least sexiest projects, like buses and roadway maintenance repaving, are the best projects,” he said.



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