Montréal Moves Forward with Tramway, in Line with Hopes for Improved Livability

» City’s transit network would be reinforced with downtown and Côte des Neiges streetcar line.

Montréal was on a roll in the post-war period, opening its brand-new metro system in 1966, hosting the Universal Exposition in 1967, and providing a home for the Olympic Games in 1976. Charismatic Mayor Jean Drapeau wanted to define the metropolis as one of the most important in the Western hemisphere, building sports stadia and the like to provide physical evidence of the city’s importance. In the late 1970s, during the rise of the Québec sovereignty movement and the creation of French language laws, however, Montréal lost its status as Canada’s largest city to Toronto. Ever since, the town has been struggling with its identity.

But the city’s administration thinks it has a solution. Even as its perennial rival invests in a large network of new light rail lines and subway extensions, Montréal has

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The Need for High-Speed Rail Full-Funding Grant Agreements

The Federal Railroad Administration should take a page from the FTA’s playbook in establishing payment regimes for new fast rail projects.

The submission of final applications for high-speed rail funding on Monday was an important step in the growth of the U.S. federal government’s involvement in rail investment; the FRA will begin distributing a portion of the $8 billion in reserved stimulus dollars to a number of these proposals in early October. Though these applications were mostly for small investments such as double-tracking existing lines or building new bridges, states will submit more detailed applications for entire corridors in early October, and the FRA will begin awarding funds for those projects later in the fall. That phase demands that Washington think more seriously about how it distributes cash for high-speed rail in the future. It must establish a formal, grant-based procedure by which states or authorities receive funds and rely on

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Fighting Ourselves Over Funding for Intracity Versus Intercity Transportation

It’s a daunting task, but we’ve got to improve transportation both in and between cities.

When discussing increasing spending on high-speed rail, questions of how funds should be prioritized frequently arise. Is it appropriate to spend tens of billions of dollars on new intercity rail lines when our inner-city transit systems are so deprived? Shouldn’t we focus our funds on the projects that are most likely to benefit the most number of people?

In a recent interview for a Russian business magazine, University of Minnesota Professor David Levinson, who blogs at The Transportationist, was asked about the effectiveness of high-speed rail in combating transportation and ecological problems, focusing on the concern that fast trains solve neither problem particularly well:

“HSR serves intercity travel markets, most transportation problems in the developed world occur within cities, which HSR does not directly address. Resources spent on HSR cannot be spent on local transportation problems.”

“I am

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U.K.'s Network Rail Moves Forward with Route Choice for High-Speed 2

» Fast rail link would connect London with Glasgow and Edinburgh in just over two hours.

Over the past few decades, the United Kingdom has fallen behind its European peers, having failed to develop intercity high-speed rail lines even as France, Spain, Germany, and Italy expanded their networks significantly. The completion of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link in 2007, however, brought Eurostar trains from Paris and Bruxelles into London at high-speeds for the first time and whetted the country’s taste for faster trains. Since 2008, the Conservative Party has been campaigning actively for a new 200 mph north-south line connecting London with the country’s major regions, and the ruling Labour Party has slowly come on board. Today, the U.K.’s track owner Network Rail released a report proposing the construction of a new £34 billion mainline from London to Scotland. Trains could be

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Sao Paulo Tries New Station Seats… for the Obese

The chairs are twice as wide as normal and are designed to encourage the less-than-fit to ride the subway.

The London Telegraph reports that Sao Paulo has begun installing special seats in subway stations designed to encourage the city’s most overweight to use the transit system. Brazil’s largest city has a 40-mile subway system that carries more than 3 million people daily.

Brazil, like most advanced countries, is suffering from an obesity epidemic, and the new seats are part of a government initiative to improve the lives of those who can’t fit comfortably in typical chairs. The seats’ very different shape and identifiable color, however, has been a turn-off for overweight riders, who, according to the Telegraph story, don’t feel comfortable using them.

As far as I know, there is no similar initiative in United States subway or light rail systems. Too bad, though, since our obesity rate — at

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The Site / The Fight

by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

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