EDITORIALFEATURE High-Speed Rail Option Good for Houston and Dallas A joint editorial by Mayor Annise Parker of Houston and Mayor Mike Rawlings of Dallas W e are proud to be the Mayors of two of the top 10 largest and fastest growing cities in America. Houston and Dallas have weathered the recent economic downturn and are now the engines powering our state’s tremendous job growth. While we celebrate the individual successes of our respective cities, we also recognize how important Dallas and Houston are to each other. With the bounty of economic growth comes the challenge of thousands of new people relocating to our cities as well as increased commerce in the form of trucks on our highways. Moreover, many Texans are surprised to learn that more than 50,000 “super-commuters” travel between Dallas and Houston every day. Additionally, millions of our respective residents have friends and family separated by the 240mile stretch of I-45. Combined, these factors create congestion and place a massive and growing strain on our infrastructure. A privately funded company,Texas Central Railway is currently working on a highspeed rail route between Houston and Dallas. We support the addition of new alternatives for travel between our two growing cities. This privately funded project could transform the way we travel not just between our city centers but could be the model for other parts of the country. Traveling between downtown Dallas and downtown Houston currently takes approximately four hours and according to TxDOT, this commute is expected to increase to over 6.5 hours by 2035. A high-speed railroad could play an integral role in alleviating this problem by taking cars off the road and reducing With the bounty of economic growth comes the challenge of thousands of new people relocating to our cities as well as increased commerce in the form of trucks on our highways. travel times for drivers trying to reach the central business districts of Houston and Dallas. In addition to easing our traffic congestion, another benefit of high-speed rail in Texas is the impact it could have in cutting harmful emissions One of the reasons high-speed rail projects in the United States have been unsuccessful thus far is that they have relied solely on government funding for completion. We are hopeful that Texas Central Railway can succeed because its approach to this project is completely unique. For the first time, we are seeing a market-driven, privately funded approach to highspeed rail. We applaud the way in which Texas Central brought a much-needed project, an innovative approach and its checkbook to Texas. Countries across Europe and Asia have enjoyed high-speed rail service for decades but the United States is not yet 14 SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE [ JULY 2014 ] home to the kind of rail line proposed by Texas Central. As Texans, we take great pride in blazing a path for the rest of the country to follow. This effort by Texas Central is a privately funded attempt to do just that. High-speed rail offers an opportunity to improve the way Dallas and Houston residents connect with one another. We are rooting for the state of Texas to be at the forefront of innovation with this transformational, privately funded, high-speed rail initiative. High-speed rail will provide a travel alternative that will help alleviate traffic congestion on I-45, create thousands of quality jobs, and may help Texas travelers reduce their carbon footprint. We look forward to the day when the residents of Dallas and Houston can travel on a high-speed rail between our two downtowns in less than 90 minutes. Serving since January 2, 2010, Annise D. Parker has been elected as the Mayor of Houston three times. She is Houston’s 61st Mayor and one of only two women to hold the City’s highest elected office. In 2010, Time Magazine named Mayor Parker one the 100 most influential people in the world. Mayor Annise Parker is a Steering Committee Member of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and serves on President Barack Obama’s State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. She is also on the advisory board of Small Business Today Magazine. For more information, go to www.houstontx.gov/mayor/. Mike Rawlings has been the Mayor of Dallas since the 2011 Dallas mayoral election. He is also the former CEO of Pizza Hut, former chief executive of the Tracy-Locke ad agency, and former Managing Partner of CIC Partners where he provided business counsel and capital helping to grow small and mid-sized businesses in Dallas and across the U.S.