Weekend Links

» This Week’s Big News. Open Thread.

Follow my Twitter account (@ttpolitic) to get news in real time.

Update: Feel free to use the comments section as an open thread — as long as the discussion is transportation-related.

On the Transport Politic:


  • As smart phones become more popular, thefts become a major problem on subways:
  • Elana Schor, on Streetsblog Capital Hill: Former DOT chief says that more extensions of 2005 federal transportation law may come, despite calls for its replacement:
  • Next American City: Can the Densities of Some Neighborhoods Be too Low for Transit to Work?
  • Next American City: Rallies for Transportation Underscore the Need for Funding Reform:
  • China’s charging tolls for its roads, forcing drivers to contribute to the system they use (and infuriating American right-wing scholars):

High-Speed Rail

  • South Sudan considering building high-speed rail link to Uganda:
  • Argument and resignation in New York State over shared use of freight tracks for HSR; State wants 110 mph for passenger trains, but CSX balks:
  • Serious criticism of Russia’s Sapsan ‘high-speed’ train, which has been literally hit by local opposition:

The West

  • Tukwila, south of Seattle, benefiting from proximity to light rail:
  • Bellevue, Washington, seems likely to get downtown light rail tunnel after all:
  • Salt Lake City planning to use BRT line to reinvigorate State Street:
  • San Francisco Transbay Terminal plans under budget, will include 1,000-person amphitheater:
  • San Francisco’s Caltrain commuter rail service may need electrification to keep service afloat:

The East & Middle

  • Racist anti-Muslim ads to be restored to Miami buses after having been removed:
  • Ohio’s 3C rail project moves ahead, despite constant opposition from state GOP:
  • Missouri Gov cuts state funds for St. Louis Metro after citizens pass bill to aid transit agency with more local tax support:
  • Raleigh plans $200m Union Station downtown, connecting intercity rail with local services:
  • Dallas sketches out Cotton Belt plan, will probably require private funds to complete project:
  • Austin’s Capital Metro again facing troubles, now bridges on its commuter rail line are claimed to be structurally deficient:

Image above: San Francisco’s Planned Transbay Transit Center, from TJPA

15 replies on “Weekend Links”

What is polemical? Running very limited number of trains trains (what can you do with four trainsets and 9 hour roundtrip) at 250 km/h on track that has grade crossings and doesn’t even have flexible fastening?

1. Density: You pay far too little attention to it and thus expect mass transit to work in places where it never will work. In any area where it’s possible to drive without horrific traffic and park without horrific cost, cars will win and mass transit will utterly fail. I cannot think of a single counterexample.

(The other thing you consider way too little is the absurd and unworkable cost of building and running mass transit in North America. No one expects China’s costs but when everything we build here is several times more expensive than it would be in Europe then there’s really little chance for the level of expansion that would really transform life in the dense parts of the U.S.)

2. Given that Muslims come in all races, how can anti-Muslim ads be racist? The signs are obviously put up by people who believe Islam not to be the word of God, but that’s hardly anything new or objectionable. Different religious sects have been trying to win converts since the invention of the second religion and verbal conflicts between religions are a helpful way for people to decide what they believe and the sort of conversation that free societies are all about. People who disagree with your worldview aren’t evil, even those who hate public transit and doubt climate change. Snide comments won’t change any minds.

Those are links to articles that Yonah thought we might fnd interesting, not ones he wrote, so if you are going to counter argue with their point and direct your arguent to the writer, you are better off commenting on the articles themselves.

What on earth are you talking about?

In the first case, the article Yonah linked to was one that he did, in fact, write himself. You really should click on the link before chiding people for their idiocy.

In the second case, I was commenting less on the article that Yonah linked to than his dogmatic and incorrect assertion that the advertising was, in fact, racist.

So I actually was on topic for comments on this blog, both times.

If you’re going to be snippy, try to have a leg to stand on.

In any area where it’s possible to drive without horrific traffic and park without horrific cost, cars will win and mass transit will utterly fail. I cannot think of a single counterexample.

Calgary cites its downtown parking restrictions as a reason why its light rail is so successful, but in reality it’s not a dense or congested city. It turns out that elementary competence solves a lot of problems.

Calgary is a place I’ve never been — and frankly haven’t even heard much about since the Winter Olympics when I was a kid.

Is the transit efficient enough that the people of Calgary are happy with what sounds like an artificially created parking shortage or — in your guesstimate — would the average Calgerite prefer to drive if parking was easy?

I hate to drive so it’s easy for me to imagine a transit system good enough to keep me out of the car, even if driving was cheap and easy where I lived.

But before I kid myself about the possibility of any such system working, I think about my dad. Everything that transit bloggers describe as possible nirvanas would strike him as dystopian nightmares — and he’s the sort of person you have to win over with speed, efficiency and price before there will be any shift in American living patterns or transport behavior.

And it seems like all transit bloggers are woefully unaware that folks like my dad make up 85 percent of the country.

I honestly don’t know what the on-street perceptions of the C-Train are. But politically the consensus for it is strong. Jane Jacobs doesn’t mention Calgary specifically, but she explains that Canada lags behind the US in trends, so by the time it got around to doing urban renewal and freeways, it could already see their failure in the US. Calgary made a decision in the 1960s to reserve its high-capacity rights of way for something, and then made a decision to use light rail instead of freeways or BRT. Everything else followed – the parking restrictions were a way of orienting downtown to light rail, instead of driving.

Yonah – was wondering if you would like us to occasionally reciprocate the favour for these weekly round ups and pass on any tidbits in the comments here? Assuming that a £1 billion new/renovated urban rail line that’s come in on budget and ahead of time may be of interest…

I tried out the new East London Line on the Overground network, which launched today.
(Here’s another article)

The images and videos cannot convey just how barfy (juvenile, but I can think of no other word to describe this colour combination) the orange and brown checked fabric of the seats is. Nor the surreal experience of a near-empty train with walk-through cars that feels like a hospital corridor or endless dentist’s waiting room – a phenomenal amount of space and the first thing I was thinking was ‘where on earth am I going to sit’. (I’ve ridden a lot of subways around the world, and I think this is the first time I’ve seen anything quite like it – Vancouver’s Canada Line is also walk through, but that’s only two cars – in these ones you have an unimpeded view of almost 250 feet down the length of the train).

The centre-facing seats leave a great deal more space than the trainsets on the existing North London Line (which has paired seats in the line of travel), which will be a godsend at peak times. On the old trains, it’s not just the congestion but, due to the layout, trying to plough through to the doors that’s a serious pain.

Remarkably quiet and smooth ride and everything so shiny and new — so I got off at Wapping where the history of the station is readily visible, not least in the entrances to the world’s oldest tunnel under a river. A nice contrast to the sleek but rather dull design of the four new stations on the line.

So hopefully that’s of interest. But let us know if you’d rather we kept comments on these pages related to the stories you’ve flagged.

(And thanks once again for an ever informative site).

Absolutely! In fact, it might make sense to make these Weekend Links posts open threads. So — feel free to comment on whatever you’d like — as long as it’s transportation-related.

By the way, the articulated trainsets you’re describing, in which you can walk from one end of a train to the other, are becoming increasingly common on metro and commuter rail systems everywhere (Paris, London, Singapore, Shanghai…) except for the U.S. They have the advantage of providing greater capacity and often a feeling of greater safety.

I tried looking into the lack of interest among U.S. transit systems in investing in these trains a year ago — — but none of the major American rail operators are interested at all.

Washington is buying brand new trainsets that would be perfect for such articulation, but it’s not even being considered.

Toronto’s new subway train, on the other hand, will have it.

Speaking of articulated trains, can you point me to an article from you or anyone else that explains why so few places opt for them? There seem to have so many big advantages in terms of capacity, passenger distribution, safety and even train maintenance. I can’t understand why so new trains are open.

(I say this as a daily PATH rider who laments almost daily the fact that the PA is paying like half a billion dollars to replace its train fleet with trains that are smoother and quieter than their predecessors, but otherwise no better. Actually, my PATH frustrations also led me to wonder why so few rapid transit systems have gone to driverless trains. Any articles on that?)

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