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Travel News

High-speed trains: A top Obama Administration priority, says US Transport Secretary LaHood

Written by editor

LAS VEGAS (eTN) – In his remarks at the ongoing World Travel & Tourism Council’s eleventh Global Travel and Tourism Summit, currently being held in Las Vegas, Nevada, the United States transport s

LAS VEGAS (eTN) – In his remarks at the ongoing World Travel & Tourism Council’s eleventh Global Travel and Tourism Summit, currently being held in Las Vegas, Nevada, the United States transport secretary, Ray LaHood, has said the Obama administration has big plans to establish high-speed trains.

These goals, according to the US transport secretary, goes in line with what he termed as “historic investments in America’s roads, bridges, streetcar and light-rail systems.” US Transport Secretary LaHood said: “President Obama has set the goal of connecting 80 percent of Americans with high-speed rail within a quartet century – and we’re well on our way. That means every traveler will be able to get from Southern California to Las Vegas, or from Boston to Washington, or from Detroit to Chicago to St. Louis, in a fraction of the time it takes to drive.”

Based on the transport secretary’s personal experience, he is looking forward to this addition to the US transport system. He said: “I’ve visted Europe and Asia, and I have been impressed with their high-speed systems. There’s no excuse for the world’s best passenger transportation systems to be somewhere else. So we’re hard at work trying to catch up and making sure visitors can get around the US without boarding a plane or renting a car if they choose not to.”

The US government official added, “As we plan and build for the future, we’re ending the practice of designing transportation systems independently from one another.” For Secretary LaHood, this means “everything we build – airports, our trains lines, our metro transit networks – should link together so a visitor from Europe or Asia can get off the flight, onto the train or streetcar, and on their way to wherever they’re going. In our line of work, we call this multi-modalism.”

From a travel and tourism perspective, according to the transport secretary, these efforts by the Obama administration mean “more customers enjoying your services and hospitality.”

Further, the transport secretary defined what President Obama means when he talks about “winning the future.” According to Secretary LaHood: “In the short-term, we’re creating good, quality construction jobs building the transportation systems of tomorrow. As more flights arrive at our airports – and as high-speed rail races Americans from origin to destination – we’re creating new opportunities for you to do business in America’s great cities or parks, and with a larger base of customers. Over the long-run, we’ll all be more economically competitive as a result.”

Secretary LaHood also offered insights on two major issues — US’ Open Skies programs and airline passengers’ safety and rights.

On the US’ Open Skies program, he said: “We’re increasing the number of routes travelers can take to get here – and the number of carriers they can choose to fly on. Think about it: twenty years ago, the US had zero Open Skies agreements. Now, we have more than 100 partners. As a consequence, we’ve revolutionized the way people travel and do business. Airlines can fly the routes that passengers want at prices the market sustains. American companies – the heart of our economy – can keep goods flowing through the world’s arteries of commerce. And we’re working toward additional partnerships – toward safely bringing even more of these benefits to the traveling public.”

And finally, on the issue about airline passengers’ safety and rights, the US transport secretary said: “Once passengers are booked and on board, we’re making sure that their safety and rights as consumers are respected. That’s why we’ve issued new rules limiting how much time passengers can sit in planes stuck on the tarmac; requiring airlines to refund baggage fees if they don’t deliver your luggage on time; mandating that airlines prominently disclose all potential fees – including luggage fees, meal fees, change fees, or cancellation fees; and doubling the amount of voucher money for which passengers are eligible if they’re involuntarily bumped from an oversold flight.”

The eleventh edition of the WTTC’s Global Travel and Tourism Summit is currently being held and is scheduled to end tomorrow, May 19, 2011. Next year’s host, Tokyo, Japan, has sent a 40-member delegation to this year’s gathering of the 100 most influential CEOs from the global and tourism industry.