In response to growth, Chinese cities choose metros

» With rail rapid transit construction in virtually every major Chinese city, the country is betting on an urban future focused on transit.

Faced with limited political will for increased infrastructure funding, the debate over transportation planning in the United States has become increasingly dominated by an austerity-driven understanding of how to respond to growth. Unwilling or unable to develop ambitious plans for the future, many cities and their public officials have contented themselves with doing more with less.

Doing more with less is a strange maxim for an incredibly wealthy—and still growing—nation. Nevertheless, it is a pathology that has so altered many American planners’ sense of the acceptable that the mere idea of a master plan of significant investment attracts little more than dismissive scoffs. With blasé planners and uninterested politicians, “doing more” is readily transformed into actually doing very little.

Undoubtedly the overwhelming problems that infect that very core of the American

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Shanghai's Metro, Now World's Longest, Continues to Grow Quickly as China Invests in Rapid Transit

Click here for large (2000 px wide) version of Shanghai Metro Map

» System will carry about five million passengers a day. Dozens of other Chinese cities are spending billions of dollars on similar grade-separated transit systems.

If China’s massive investment in high-speed rail is impressive, its huge spending binge in local rapid transit is remarkable. And nowhere is that record more dramatic than in Shanghai, the world’s most populous city proper.

Just fifteen years after the first segment of its first metro line opened, the city’s metro network has gained the title as the world’s longest with the opening of a section of Line 10 last week. This followed years of continuous construction and the opening of pieces of Lines 2, 9, and 11 over the past month. In anticipation of the inauguration of the city’s

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Beijing-Shanghai HSR Link to Average Speeds of Over 200 mph

Railway Ministry announces trip will take less than four hours, versus previously announced five.

China’s Beijing-Shanghai high-speed connection, which is the most important link in the country’s ambitious rail plans, will be faster than previously announced when it fully opens in 2013. The project was designed from the start for trains capable of 217 mph top speeds, but the government estimated total trip time of five hours on the 819 mile corridor, which would have meant average speeds of 164 mph on the whole line, a bit above typical for a corridor of this type. The country has now announced that its ambitions are even larger, and that trains will average over 200 mph to make the trip in less than four hours.

What’s significant about this announcement is that it means that trains will be moving at speeds higher than the 217 mph initially proposed for the major parts

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China HSR Construction Speeds Up

Three more routes centering around Shanghai planned

China, as described before, has embarked on the world’s largest high-speed rail program, with more than 10,000 km of passenger rail lines under construction to connect the nation’s largest and most important cities. The result will be truly expanded mobility for the country’s citizens and vastly reduced travel times.

Most important, perhaps, is the Beijing-Shanghai link, which will connect the country’s two largest metro regions, and whose construction began in April of 2008. According to People’s Daily, all of the tunnels along the 1,200 km long line will be completed this year – after little more than a year in construction. Trains along the corridor are now projected to travel at 220 mph, the same as along California’s planned high-speed line, and they will cover the distance in five hours.

Consider this: the distance between New York and Chicago is roughly the same

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Mass Transit in the Stimulus; Shanghai's Rail Boom

The New York Daily News and Newsday report that New York State stands to gain billions of dollars in the upcoming stimulus bill, enough to not only iron out the enormous expected budget deficit that is coming as a result of decreasing tax revenues, but also enough to provide for the improvement of transportation in the Empire State. Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Jerry Nadler had a press conference yesterday in Manhattan to announce that they were busy negotiating with the incoming administration on the specific terms of the now $675-775 billion stimulus. And they suggest that transit capital projects will receive $20 billion of the total bill, with one-fifth of that amount, as per tradition, going to New York because of its huge mass transit ridership. This is very good news for New York City, whose fiscal crisis is threatening transit especially dramatically.

Keep in mind that

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  • by Yonah Freemark
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