We recently noted in this space that the Republican Party included a plank supporting high-speed rail service in the party platform at its recent convention.

The platform developed for the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles this week contains a similar pledge. Under the heading of "Investing in Communities," the platform states:

Al Gore and the Democratic Party support the building of high-speed rail systems in major transportation corridors across the nation. High-speed rail reduces highway and airport congestion; improves air quality; stimulates the economy, and broadens the scope of personal choice for traveling between our communities. We support new grants to Amtrak and the states for improving and expanding passenger rail routes and corridors.

Since both major parties appear to agree on the issue, we suppose now would be a good time to get serious about developing state-of-the-art ground transportation alternatives. The Democrats' host city, Los Angeles, is not a bad place to start.

Some 12 million passengers a year travel by air between the Los Angeles basin and the San Francisco Bay area. Before 8 a.m. on an average workday, over 20 nonstop flights take off from Los Angeles-area airports, heading north for San Francisco, Oakland or San Jose. The airlines operate another eight to 10 flights per hour for the rest of the day. And that's just the northbound traffic.

Rail travel will never get equal time, nor should it; but it's pretty sad that Angelenos can't get to San Francisco by rail, or that it takes Amtrak three hours to cover the 130 miles to San Diego.

If you want your elected representatives to take steps to ease some of our airborne congestion without paving over the entire country, then vote for the Republican or Democratic high-speed rail advocate of your choice. Just don't let them forget what they wrote in their nice platforms.

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