» French national government and Paris region officials agree to more than €30 billion in transit improvements by 2025.
From an international perspective, there are two really significant things about the newly approved plans for a radial rapid transit system around the French capital: First, its primary service area will be in the suburbs rather than in the center city; second, it will prioritize very fast transit times over local area connectivity.
These characteristics make last week’s agreement by regional and national officials to construct the Grand Paris Express network of rapid transit lines a truly significant pattern break in thinking about how to engage in the creation of better public transportation systems. Will this €22.7 billion ($31 billion) transit line, in connection with €12 billion in upgrades to the existing system, make Paris a model for local mobility? Or does it represent poor decision-making on the part
Continue reading A Grander Paris Through a Rapid Circumferential Metro »
» Conservatives in Congress threaten to shut down funding for transit construction projects and investments in intercity rail. One doesn’t have to look far to see why these programs aren’t priorities for them.
Late last week, a group of more than 165 of the most conservative members of the House of Representatives, the Republican Study Committee, released a report that detailed an agenda to reduce federal spending by $2.5 trillion over ten years. Spurred on by increasing public concern about the mounting national debt, the group argues that the only choice is to make huge, painful cuts in government programs. With the House now in the hands of the Republican Party, these suggestions are likely to be seriously considered.
Transportation policy is prominent on the group’s list, no matter President Obama’s call for investments in the nation’s transportation infrastructure, expected to be put forward in tonight’s state
Continue reading Understanding the Republican Party’s Reluctance to Invest in Transit Infrastructure »
» A recommendation from the Urban Land Institute suggests pulling a proposed rail line out of a highway and onto a neighborhood street.
Take one trip on the Dan Ryan branch of Chicago’s Red Line and you’ll be convinced of the perils of locating transit stations in the medians of fast-moving expressways. Getting to stops is hard enough: It usually requires crossing first a huge intersection featuring cars hopping on and off the freeway; then, on too small of a sidewalk you’re required to bridge over several lanes of rushing traffic below. Once you’re finally on the platform, though, the situation may be worse: Cars are whizzing by at high speeds — producing tremendous noise and emitting nauseating pollutants — on both sides of the track. It’s certainly not a welcoming experience.
Fundamentally, standing there at a station waiting for a train makes you feel like you are a second-class citizen
Continue reading In Charlotte, a Busy Highway May be No Place for Rapid Transit »
» As the Port Authority plans for improved ship access, Staten Islanders hope a renovated Bayonne Bridge could mean new rail links.
When it opened in 1931, the Bayonne Bridge was the longest steel arch span in the world. Today it remains an impressive work of infrastructure, its magnificent girders visible from throughout the New York metropolitan region. The Port Authority-controlled link, which allows commuters to get to and from Staten Island and New Jersey, is an important connection in the regional road network.
With cargo ships getting bigger and bigger, however, the bridge has become an impediment: Its roadway hangs too low to allow for the easy passage of new Panamax-class ships readied for an expanded Panama Canal now under construction. Without clearing the way through the Kill Van Kull — the waterway over which the bridge runs — the Port of Newark will have trouble accommodating more
Continue reading A Light Rail Extension for Staten Island? »
» America 2050 releases a report comparing potential rail investments across the country. But political leadership, not scientific analysis, will be what advances the construction of new infrastructure in the United States.
There is something very appealing about the idea that governmental authorities could go about establishing strict, empirically defined guidelines based on “objectives” or “targets” and thereafter identify and fund the right investments in transportation. The argument made by many reformers is that such a system could allow federal, state, and local governments in the United States to use “objective” measures to compare and contrast potential investments and then fund only those that meet the highest standards.
This, in some ways, is what America 2050 is attempting to do in its most recent publication, High-Speed Rail in America. By analyzing several thousand corridors crisscrossing the nation in respect to such factors as population, employment, connectivity, congestion, and job types,
Continue reading What Value for Empirical Claims in the Development of a National Rail Network? »