With all the fuss over the high speed rail here in California, and whether or not it could transform the San Joaquin Valley or become a massive boondoggle, taking Amtrak now in Fresno is hardly the worst thing in the world. I'm on my way to San Francisco for an event, and decided I did not want the hassle of driving. It's been a while since I've taken the train in California; I think my last trip was almost four years ago during a whirlwind trip through New England.

When I mentioned to a friend in the Bay Area that I was taking the train in, she said, "Thank goodness, as the city is a mess between the construction and Uber and Lyft make it near impossible to move around." Another former colleague expressed almost the same exact sentiment. Ridesharing has been touted as a way to democratize transportation, but the evidence to me suggests that these ride-demand services are demolishing public transportation systems instead of complementing them.

Currently I'm somewhere in Madera County, on my way from Fresno. The trip takes about 4 hours, not including the bus I have to take from Emeryville to get into San Francisco's financial district. Nevertheless, I can work; I can blog; I can snack; and of course post like a fiend on Instagram. Yes, the train was a little late (freight trains get priority in the U.S., to the detriment of passenger trains), but the extended time is worth it.

Who knows if the high speed rail will deliver all the promises that have been touted in recent years. But naysayers back in the 1920s and 1930s said it would be a disaster to build a bridge across the Golden Gate; and the coach and buggy-whip industries hated the ideas of automobiles. But the reality is, we need a happy medium between personal mobility at the expense of gridlock and pollution. I keep getting told to hang onto my condo in Fresno as property prices will skyrocket once the high speed rail; who knows, maybe the Hyperloop will end up being the solution. All I know is that we need less cars on the road, not more; and progress is often chaotic, but projects such as train systems can provide job opportunities while making communities far more pleasant in which to live.

Image credits: Leon Kaye

Fresno, Leon Kaye

Dawn at the Fresno Amtrak Station

Madera, Fresno, San Joaquin Valley, Leon Kaye

Vineyards under the Madera sunrise

Fresno, Leon Kaye

Waiting at the Santa Fe Depot in downtown Fresno

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.