Saturday, October 3, 2009

Twitter Gives Major Boost for High-Speed Rail

Leaders from Southern California joined Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at a news conference Friday, Oct. 2 at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles to officially announce that the state submitted a $4.7 billion application for federal stimulus funds.

Californians approved a nearly $10-billion bond last November for a high-speed rail system that could connecting Southern California to the Bay Area and Sacramento. Gov. Schwarzenegger said California would match the federal grant "dollar for dollar."
California's high-speed rail system would zip passengers from Anaheim to San Francisco in less than 3 hours. Experts concur that because of Orange County's early planning work, the Anaheim to Los Angeles segment of high-speed rail will be the first under construction. The line would take riders from Anaheim to Los Angeles in just 20 minutes, rather than the nearly 1-hour Metrolink train trip that my coworkers and I took to the news conference.


"We are one in California with one application and one commitment to high-speed rail," said Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, a board director of the Orange County Transportation Authority and chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. "That's why we want you to join with us in making a commitment and encouraging those representatives that you know in the
federal government so they know that we stand as one in the state of California for the support high-speed rail. We need your support in delivering it."

That help and support came in immediately via new social media tools such
as Twitter. During the news conference, twitterers in Orange County shared messages with their followers.

"High speed rail in CA -- now is the time to start," tweeted Ross Teasely of Dana Point.

Diana Truong, a UC Irvine sophomore, forwarded the support message to her followers on Twitter.

The Orange County Business Council tweeted: "Let the media know your support for high-speed rail."

"Fellow Californians: Please show your support for California High Speed Rail!" exclaimed Newport Beach resident Neal Schaffer, an author of a new book on LinkedIn, to his 40,000 followers on Twitter.

The Costa Mesa Conference and Visitors Bureau shared an audio interview from the news conference to its 1,300 followers. "Hear what Anaheim and OCTA have planned for high-speed rail connecting Orange County with LA and SF," the bureau tweeted.


Within just 24 hours, the news conference and online community rally generated 100 tweets displaying Twitter's jaw-dropping power to reach 89,000 people with more than 180,000 impressions.

To learn how to share your support for California high-speed rail, visit and or follow the latest on Twitter with the hashtag: #CAhsr or by following @CAhsr (the unofficial California high-speed rail blog but officially my favorite rail blog) and @CAhsra (the official Twitter account by the state's high-speed rail authority).

Or share your comments here. Do you think it's time to build high-speed rail? Or should other states get the $8 billion in federal stimulus funds?

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