I spend enough time on Seattle Transit blogs yammering on about transit so I decided I should probably start posting something in my own transit blog. Since a blog cannot be a blog without a log.
Part of my frustration with local transit (local as in the U.S.) is that it takes forever to do anything. In the amount of time that it will take the U.S. to build it's first real high speed rail Mexico will be done with theirs. Mexico? We're competing against Mexico and losing. The reason is that Mexico decides to do something and then does it. Here in the land of the free we decide to do something then sit in commitree meetings for the next 20 years trying to address every single person's objections. The last time we had any guts we built an amazing freeway system - that was 50 years ago.
China is another one. Yes I understand the issues with human rights and all of that but we're talking about transit. in 2005 China decided to build a metro system in Shanghai. Now they have the largest metro system in the world having just passed London. By 2020 they plan on adding extensions to it that by themselves equal the size of the New York City subway!
There's argument over how the size of metro systems are measured but no matter as this is a very large and they've done it in record time.
What keeps us from doing this? We have to take into consideration everything before pushing one shovel into the ground. How much will it cost? How much noise will it make? How will it effect the environment? These projects are expensive but so are the alternatives. How much co2 is dumped into the air now and how much wear and tear is put on the highways in addition to the cost of expanding/widening them? How much longer would our cars last if we had a faster, more reliable way of getting to work? I'd like to see a REAL cost analysis on transportation. We have had transit projects shelved because of environmental impact. Environmental Impact of million sof drivers driving to work every day? According to the U.S. Census Bureau 77.3% of all commuters drive to work and are alone in the car. What's the environmental impact of building cars that wear out in 7 years from high mileage, producing trillions of gallons of gas a year, paving roads, repaving roads and repairing roads in addition to the impact of exhaust being dumped into the atmosphere? I'd like to see these numbers but I think that digging a trench in the ground and filling it with tracks is less than the above mentioned items. Not to mention that Paris, London and Budapest are still using their 100 year old metro systems. Cost? Spread it over the next century.
There will be more posts on China, they're also in the process of building the largest high speed rail network in the world.