Japan has a plan to run a superconducting maglev train between Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka. It's a huge job. The "Japanese Alps" are in the way. Most of the route would have to be in tunnels cut through hard rock.
It's not just talk. The first section is already running. At 500km/hr. There are working trainsets running on 42km of track, mostly in tunnels. Stations are under construction. Tunneling continues. Construction started in 2014. Completion in 2027, to Nagoya. Osaka 10 years later.
Many Asian cities now have large new monorail systems. Daegu, 30 stations. Mumbai, 17 stations. Chongqing, 64 stations. Many smaller systems, too.
Actually, and despite the fact that services are provided by more than half a dozen independent companies, it's quite easy to navigate. Even when you run into vertigo when seeing it for the first time.
Each line, no matter if Tokyo metro, private metro, JR, private railway is color coded and has a fixed one or more unique letter designation.
Say, you want to go to Ginza, to just take one example. You don't even have to remember the station name. You just need to know the station codes. In this case M16 (red), H08 (gray) or G9 (orange). The letter designates the metro line, while the number represents the station for the respective line. And each combination is unique.
That, in combination with a PASMO or SUICA smart card makes orientation very straight forward and seamless.
The only time I got lost was when I couldn't immediately find a Tokyo Metro station and Google Maps sent me to the JR station on the other end of the mall. Even then, it only took me a few minutes of wandering around to find what I was looking for.
Tokyo is so safe, friendly and easily navigable I didn't give it a second thought.
Quite impressive! It even includes the Disney Resort Line (small orange loop toward the right-hand side).
After a recent visit to London I've really come to appreciate how fantastic the signage is in the Tokyo railway system. In London I often had trouble finding exits or connections (often following signs only to seemingly run out of directions), but in Tokyo it always seems seamless.
It seems that the grass is always greener on the other side.
I’d like to try Tokyo some time though, it seems so nice.
(I’m from Belgium)
That being said, I do think that the Tube has generally very good signage and ticketing. Its main issues are being unpleasantly loud and hot.
In train I’ve only ridden on the GWR Paddington-Bristol route. I found it very comfortable although it was still diesel powered. I’ve heard the line now has been electrified up to Swindon I think. I’m a railway worker so I can ride first class for free. It’s great because with GWR you get free drinks and snacks and the seats are really comfy. But if you have to pay it’s really expensive in the UK.
Most of North America is so stuck in the car equilibrium that it seems hopeless. There's not even a handful of cities that would be nice to get around or live in without a car. This seems like it would take decades to correct, even if most North Americans actually wanted to. As an semi-extremist urbanite I'm incredibly pessimistic about this.
I'm somewhat hopeful about new mobility methods like bikeshare or even rideshare, but none of them seem to be actively driving land use changes.
The main problem in the US is you don’t get both high density and mixed use.
PS: His harping on Vienna Fairfax completely misses the point, it’s the last stop on the orange line, the parking allows a vast area to commute via the subway including many people just visiting DC. The Pentagon City and Crystal City stops for example directly connect to shopping next to huge residential sections and have minimal parking.
I’m not sure what else you could do there, unless you want to have the government heavily subsidize commercial development, which seems like a recipe for empty, decaying buildings in a decade or two.
And it doesn't need to be eight story apartments with elevator, garbage, the whole shebang; a four-family house like this would still be a massive improvement over most American suburbs. https://activerain-store.s3.amazonaws.com/image_store/upload... Plus with how expensive DC is, you could do worse than selling houses.
When I say single use, I'm not talking about the neighborhood, I'm talking about the land itself; it sounds like the developer is restricted from building anything other than commercial or retail on that particular portion of the neighborhood. Even in the overheated property markets of New York, the new all-office World Trade Center is struggling with vacancy, and Hudson Yards had to be revamped from all-office to mixed-use because there's simply too much office space on the market. And even after they did that, the city had to offer tax breaks so that companies would populate the new district.
 - https://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2018/04/23/in-fa...
Oddly, the massive success of mixed-use development at the nearby Dunn Loring station is being used as an excuse to sit on this project, because they say it’s too close and couldn’t compete. (Meanwhile, a massive new mixed use development is going up just half a mile down the road.)
Although it is probably worth noting that e.g. Los Angeles has some places (kind of) like what you're talking about , but it's basically a drop in the bucket.
I think the most effective tool cities have is zoning regulations. Getting them right enables the city to harvest organic change as opposed to having to plan every single project. Reducing free parking and allowing mixed commercial and residential use seems to me like the easiest way towards a public transit centric city. In Tokyo for example there is basically no curbside parking and shops are always within walking distance.
P.S. Japanese zoning is fascinating , but not without its faults. For example, the relatively laissez-faire zoning policies can be seen as to blame for the lack of bike lane infrastructure in most of Japan . That said, 東京がとてもすきです :)
When governments are under financial pressure (aren't they all?), why not zone for what makes the most short-term or long term cash? The environmental benefits of mass transit or even the idea of high density living doesn't necessarily appeal much financially.
Don't call yourself an extremist. There's plenty of people that live without a car in big cities (outside of the US).
Obviously geography and population density - network effects scale with the square of population in reasonable service area - are huge factors. A multi-day freight trip is quite common while only a tiny fraction of passenger trips are more than a few hours - the reasonable service areas are vastly different.
In Europe you have multiple overlapping country sized rail networks. While this gives the impression of a continental sized network (especially to Eurail pass riding in American tourists) very few people are taking trains journeys more than a few hours even in Europe.
Another big issue is the incompatibility of freight and passenger rail services. It is very difficult to run both services on the same tracks at high service levels. The US focus on fright has hampered long distance and even regional passenger rail services. While in France the government decided to focus on passengers and eliminated all but a few freight routes. It would take an additional complete parallel rail infrastructure to do both well which would be quite expensive. So far the US and Europe haven’t thought this was worth it. China might be going this way.
Perhaps this simply makes sense given the differing situations.
So I accept that the USA uses the rail network almost entirely for freight, but it's not true that the EU transfers "almost all" freight by truck.
Freight trains in Europe tend to run at much higher speeds than in the USA. For example, in Britain container trains can run at up to 75mph, and 140km/h in Germany. But compared to the USA, Europe already has a complete parallel infrastructure: pretty much every route has two tracks. I've only been on one long-distance passenger train in the USA, but there were long periods where there was only a single track.
And EU28 stats are distorted by Northern and Eastern Europe where rail freight is big. Italy and France are over 80% truck and France and the UK are over 90%. Even Germany - famous for its freight rail network 150 years ago - transports only about 19% of freight by rail and 72% by truck.
While I understand why US doesn’t have a national rail passenger network - the distances are simply too far between most population concentrations - it is somewhat of a mystery why so little freight travels by rail in Europe and so much by truck. Did the passenger rail network cannibalize the previously existing freight network?
If passenger trains just replaced freight trains and trucks replaced cars, is this really the model to emulate?
I think that's the only reasonable conclusion. There are so many differences: in economies, wealth distribution, consumer preference (e.g. for local produce), population density, landmass shape (international shipping isn't in the EU statistics, but is at least as significant as coastal shipping in the USA), infrastructure (EU has no problem building new pipelines), ...
I can't find a good source of statistics, but it seems very possible that the USA simply transfers far more goods for more km (overland) than the EU.
> Did the passenger rail network cannibalize the previously existing freight network?
I'm aware of a shortage of rail capacity in particular places, e.g. traversing/avoiding London, but I don't think that's a general problem.
More likely, the same types of journey on both continents moved to road (e.g. farmer to local market/distribution centre, factory to another factory in the same general area), but in the US long distance transport of imports from Asia increased.
Tokyo has nearly 10 million people in about 1000 square miles of land
Chicago has nearly 3 million people in about 10000 square miles of land
Tokyo probably has at least 5 metropolitan cities of greater than 1 million people within 600 miles.
Chicago has none, New York is about 730 miles away.
Clearly a world of difference in the sort of density and distances that just don't necessarily support the same kind of rail system.
Even then parts of Chicago closely match his experience in Tokyo, though certainly not to the same quantity and quality.
A picture of a far north chicago L stop I lived near at one point in my life, right near the end of the line.
Nearly every stop along that train route is in the center of a neighborhood at least going north.
Where Chicago screwed up was putting L stops in the middle of freeways rather than in the center of neighborhoods for certain sections and lines. It honestly makes those areas feel like the heart of the neighborhood has been cut out of it, there is no central spot where people have a reason to be. And who really wants to live right next to a 12/8/6 lane free way? No one, and certainly that's where Chicago neighborhoods no longer feel like the cozy place where people hang out, eat, drink, and catch their ride into work.
Greater Tokyo is about 38 million people within 50-80 miles (5.200 sq mi)
We also have cross-country trains every 10 minutes and if you get to a station where you don't have a bike you can rent one from the train company. Or rent a car if you're a bit further away.
There's always room for improvement but right now they have a 90% on time record on an open rail system they share with competitors, foreign train services, and freight trains.
Adding bikes to the equation could solve America's "but our urban communities are too sparse to be served by a metro/train". A bike gets you quite far in 10 minutes. Let alone an e-bike or an electric scooter.
In Utrecht, the main station in our star-grid, they just opened a bicycle parking with 22.000 spots! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3M_GM_MDg8
edit: this is what our national rail looks like: https://www.spoorpro.nl/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/spoorkaar...
Intercity (or even longer distance trips within the city) are not available nearly often or connected enough. The Ring roads are chock-full of cars even with massive 5-6 lane express ways all around.
Not when there's a foot of snow on the ground, it doesn't.
Traffic planners here call the traffic state when pedestrians are crossing the road "dead time".
Some are too fat for a U-lock to fit around. Some are placed so close to a wall that you can't fit your bike in. Others have these vertical slats that you can stick your front tire in between, but you can't lock your frame to anything secure.
The people who designed and implemented these things must have never used a bicycle for practical purposes. The stupidity is mind boggling. It's not a difficult thing to get right.
This is probably copied from Copenhagen, where it's by far the most common type of rack.
Bicycles simply aren't locked to anything secure, unless you bring your own cable lock. That's something you might do with a flashy, new racing bike, or any other very new bike left outside e.g. into the late evening or night, although insurance should cover theft anyway.
If you have a kickstand, you don't even need to use the rack.
Fancy example: https://pricetags.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/norreport-2....
(The blame is still with the designer; it's obvious this isn't appropriate in many places outside Denmark.)
If this is what I'm picturing, you can often just lift the bike over so the rear of the front tire is in the vertical slats, instead of the front of the front tire. Then the frame is close to the rack, and you can lock your frame to the rack.
Total land area is a problem to be solved in the US for train travel, and we only have Russia and China to compare to.
City to city comparison makes much more sense
So why is there no comparable railway network in those largeish US states that are comparable to EU countries? Or in the many (almost all of them) states that are smaller than France and Japan?
The reason why we have such shitty HSR on the NEC boils down to two reasons: one, the corridor is too congested with commuter rail (particularly in Connecticut), and two, the route was rebuilt to "modern" standards in the 1930s. Rebuilding it again to truly modern 220 mph HSR standards involves needing to find virgin right-of-way in Connecticut, which is neither easy nor cheap.
The Northeast US has a similar statistical density as areas of Europe but looks so much physically different. Take some time on Google Earth and check it out. There is a nonstop blob of suburbs that go almost all the way from DC to Boston. In a proposed train network, most of the population has a long trip to the central station before they can take the train to the other city. They still need a car, and need somewhere to park it. In Europe or Asia cities are more concentrated, and the countrysides are less populated.
Building a center-city to center-city train network in the US is not impossible, but it simply wouldn't be as efficient as it would be in Europe or Asia because of the way the cities are designed.
I very much agree we need a new approach to planning an zoning. We need to focus on that first. It could take longer than a generation to transition away from the suburban model.
Many Americans prefer the freedom of being able to go A to B at any time without needing to wait at a bus/subway stop or hoping the transportation system is still running for the day. The amount of money it would cost to get the entire country walk able or reachable by public transit would be astronomical.
That's probably true (modulo taxis, even if you rule out public transport), but it's just as true when you fly from Kansas City to Houston. Which is why airports always come with car rental, and it works out for those who want a car. If a car is really needed at the destination, arrangements could and should be made to have car rentals available at the train station.
I mean... the shitty high speed rail we have (Acela) does it in an hour and 8 minutes. Making it 55 minutes probably won't change travel patterns substantially. (Although route upgrades to support that is the medium term plan)
And SD - SF should be less than 4 hours, making it faster than a flight (if you count all the time wasted at the airports).
Or, better yet, you use (now non-existing) public transportation to go around.
For people living to Syracuse, tons of times. Equally many times with any EU train that connects e.g. Paris to a city within 50 or 100 or 200 miles.
>And if you built a train to Syracuse, what would you do once you got there (without a car)? The city is the centerpiece of a region with a million people, less than 1/6 of whom live inside the city?
If it's "a million people" it should be able to afford its own public transport connected to the train station, which answers the question "what to do there without a car".
It's not like there aren't places in Europe, Asia etc that are exactly like this...
What shocked me about my recent trips abroad (to Munich and Tokyo) was that those cities were completely different. You drive a bit out of Munich and the city just ends and becomea farm land. Even with Tokyo there ia farmland between the city and Narita. In the US, it’a sprawl in every direction, and most of the population lives in that sprawl, and not in the city.
Well, not quite: "At the 2010 census, the city population was 145,252, and its metropolitan area had a population of 662,577". There are places like that in Europe.
In Greece Athens has a population of 600,000 people and the surrounding metropolitan area is 4 million -- of continuous sprawl in every direction.
Far more often than you'd think. If such a system existed people would use it all the time.
Look at the metra lines that go from Chicago to the suburbs in the north/northwest. People take those all the time because living in those areas is significantly cheaper.
People would be able to visit families long distance without needing to own a car or cough up for a plane ticket. That land in the US is vast is not really a good excuse.
Being able to conveniently take the train from Chicago -> Iowa would be great, especially if the route went further.
Yes, Amtrak runs from DC, Baltimore, Philly, NYC, and Boston. But, it’s not high speed (except a few sections on the Acela train). And the subways and neighborhood lines are lacking.
Take DC for example... the Metro single tracks and stops at every station. No express route across town. And trains only run every 20 minutes off-peak (and that’s assuming they haven’t shut the whole thing down because it’s caught on fire again). So, getting from Tyson’s Corner or Bethesda to Union Station is not fast.
An regular train from the inner business centers to Union Ststion, plus a proper bullet train to NYC would make a suitable substitute for flying. Right now, rail just isn’t a workable option for many business travelers.
From Washington Dulles airport, approximately 265k passengers per year fly to Boston. Another 715k fly DCA-BOS. DCA-LGA accounts for 318k. DCA-JFK, IAD-LGA and IAD-JFK do not crack top-ten lists of busiest domestic routes for their origins.
To get a feel for just Acela (which is not the only Northeast Corridor train service), it's slightly less than the annual passenger volume by air SFO-LAX, SFO-JFK and SFO-BOS combined.
The entire Northeast Corridor carries approximately 12M passengers per year. If it were operated by air, it would be the second-busiest route in the world by passenger volume, slotting between CJU-GMP in Korea (13M/year) and MEL-SYD in Australia (9M/year).
In 2012, the New York Times reported that 75 percent of travelers between New York and Washington used one of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor trains (Acela isn't the only one), and between New York and Boston 54 percent used a train:
There certainly are things that could be improved. But Amtrak's operations in the northeast are not some hypothetical potential maybe-someday competitor to air travel. They are and for years have been a real and significant competitor to air travel.
And for what it's worth, Amtrak also has a farebox recovery ratio for its entire nationwide network that hovers around 95%, second in the US only to BART Oakland Airport Connector (96%).
If the trip could be two hours instead of 3.5+ that would be great but as it is it is barely justifiable over flight (being dropped off midtown is a big bonus tho).
The benefits for even longer travel just don't exist. Once you start getting into the 4+ hours on a train it's almost always better to find a flight.
This doesn't even cover the new maglev trains that are expected to go into service sometime in the late 2020s in Japan, which have a maximum speed of 550km/h, expanding the range of that 4 hour "maximum" significantly.
The major problem with the Acela is that it mainly runs on older infrastructure that wasn't designed with HS trains in mind. This severely limits its speed on most of its route. Most HS systems in other places around the world are on newly developed HS lines that were built up specifically to support the much faster speeds and requirements of these trains, and are completely separate from the regular rail lines (which might be running in parallel nearby).
Not that old tired chessnut again.
First, all of Europe is connected by trains. You can go from any country to any country in EU by train -- if you wish so. That's equally large to the US (and the train lines even continue down to Moscow and further down to Beijing).
Second, it's not like you need to hook up all of the US or nothing. Where is a comparable and equally nice metro/train solution within a single small state (dozens of which are smaller than most European countries) or even within a city?
Even Chicago or Manhattan are worse than anything shown train/subway wise.
Surely you mean "continental Europe" unless there's a tunnel to Ireland
> That's equally large to the US
Uh, no. The southwestern tip of Portugal to the northeastern tip of Estonia is around 3300 km. The mainland US equivalent is 4400 km. Moreover, unlike Europe, the population centers are mostly along opposite sides.
I don't know for this place, but it's fairly likely that the ferry schedule aligns with the train schedule.
Train+ferry connections used to be very common in Europe. Sometimes the train was loaded onto the ferry (still happens between Germany and Denmark). Some have been replaced by bridges, others are defunct, but where they still exist it's usually possible to buy an ordinary train ticket which includes travel across the ferry. Interrail/Eurail passes include the use of these ferries.
Surely that's a pedantic objection, when you can get to 95% of EU (or more population wise) by train, and when you can just take the ferry off of Scotland (and France and UK are of course connected by train)...
That's a difference of 25%, and not the machine scale difference implied at first with the US vs France comparison.
Second, that's off too. Trains continue way past Estonia, (Sweden and Finland go even further north, part of Russia is in Europe etc). Furthermore train connections continue all the way to China (e.g. with the trans-siberian-express) and even Korea and across the sea from Japan.
>Uh, no. The southwestern tip of Portugal to the northeastern tip of Estonia is around 3300 km. The mainland US equivalent is 4400 km. Moreover, unlike Europe, the population centers are mostly along opposite sides.
Besides the fact that the rest of the US is still 150 million strong (and thus could very well have some good lines connecting it), this just makes it even easier to have a great train system in those populous cities in the opposite sides -- one in East and one in the West coast for example.
Heck, the US doesn't have a good train and subway system anywhere (e.g. not even within a single state), so the logistics to have one throughout the continent is a red herring.
To take the analogy over the top, Greenland is a part of Denmark, I don't hear them saying that because of that, they should start investing only in freeways for cars in Copenhagen?
Only Texas and Alaska are larger than France. I give you Alaska, due to the geography and low population, but Texas is just slightly larger and has half the population of France - not a massive difference.
I think it could be reasonably fair to compare countries to single states at least?
Compare Texas, lots of open space and historical reasons necessitates car travel except for major urban to urban transport which could be done by train but why bother? As in the UK, the acceptance that cars be supported for some journeys means that on balance, they are better to use for most others. Even for me, the coach runs direct from my town to Heathrow airport in a similar time to a car and pretty cheap but it won't always run when I need it so why not drive (or get a lift)?
As a Londoner (have lived both centrally and in the suburbs) I think you're right that it's one or the other.
If you design for cars (e.g. M25, UK motorway network and roads, towns like Swindon and MK) then cars are the uncontested king.
In an area like London, it almost becomes an emergent phenomenon. The suburbs have car use because they're not very dense and it still beats sporadic bus routes.
In the centre there's just no space. Forget parking, Uber might be slower than the tube in a no-congestion scenario simply due to traffic lights and giving way.
Having traveled many times from Boston to NYC via car, which is about 5x cheaper than Amtrak and yes actually comparable in cost to the bus, depending on your MPG, it's kind of ridiculous to me that we don't have a better version of Amtrak by now.
Of course not representative, but you can definitely see the influence of the automobile in how these cities have grown. Compare to say, Moscow - another major urban city in a fairly sparse city - New York City has only added a few km of subway lines in the past 20 years compared to 150+km.
I wouldn't say "easy". It's possible. Here in Seattle, we're building a new 2-mile tunnel (for cars). It was originally scheduled to open 3 years ago, and will finally open in 2019. It was planned to take 29 months, but took 67.
We're not so great at bridges, either. One of my managers observed "We've got 4 floating bridges, and we sank 2 of them." That was back when I was on the Boeing 7E7 project (first flight: 28 months late).
Is it any wonder we can't get excited about the prospect of an "easy" new rail project? We can't estimate big engineering projects to within 50%, and we can't keep existing infrastructure afloat (literally). I always vote for public transit on principle, but I'm also aware it's always going to take longer and cost more than they claim, so I can't really blame people who don't.
Want broad support for infrastructure projects? First, demonstrate you can execute on them reliably. Nobody wants to agree to pay for a tunnel that might end up being the next "Big Dig".
To add to this, some areas are made of materials that are simply difficult to bore through. Atlanta, for example, sits on top of a bunch of granite which at least partially contributes to the difficulties of underground rail expansion.
You can get almost anywhere within half an hour tops, the Metro runs till after midnight weekdays and 24/7 on the weekends, there's an extensive system of Tramways & Busses to cover anything a bit farther from a Metro station.
And you can get a yearly subscription, giving you all-inclusive usage of the services for 1€/day, billed monthly.
This is mostly to stress the point of how much you take such a system for granted when it's available and just works - since I've moved here owning a car would be almost an inconvenience, and even London feels like a horrible public transportation experience.
This kind of thing is key - make it easy to use transit and lower the marginal cost of doing so. Yearly subscriptions are good. London's approach—unify almost all modes under the same payment system with automatically calculated caps and discounts—also works quite well as you don't have to think about buying passes, individual tickets, etc. Just tap and go and the system takes care of it for you.
Not many places in the US have this level of integration yet. For instance, the NYC Ferry, NYC Subway, LIRR, Metro North, PATH, and regional Amtrak service all use disjoint ticketing methods. It'll slowly get integrated over the next decade, but it greatly increases the mental effort needed to hop on transit. Perhaps the closest in the US is the Bay Area's Clipper Card - they managed to shoehorn over a dozen area agencies onto the same payment method - but it's still not quite as good as something like London's Oyster.
Nitpick: AFAIR it's only 1 EUR per day if you pay the whole 365 EUR for the year at once. If you pay monthly, it's 396 EUR for the whole year. This is a pet peeve of mine as it's a good example of how expensive it can be to be poor.
All of his articles on cities:
How can you be truly independent and live that perfect magazine cover life if you’ve got to wait on the 9:27 to take you to the B line so you won’t be late to work?
For example, in 1930 it seemed feasible to build the Hoover dam; in 1950 it seemed feasible to build the interstate highway system; in 1960 it seemed feasible to land a man on the moon.
Now, in 2018, people think it isn't feasible to build some train stations. And those people might be right! What happened to our ability (practically, politically, and financially) to get such things done?
Over time and increasing population there is a evolutionary niche filling kind of process that occurs within social, political, economic, cultural and other axes/planes/spheres. After the density of these filled niches increase sufficiently over some threshold, our civilization experiences a calcification of movement across the niches.
Each niche acts as a middleman to extract some portion of energy to successfully navigate across them. This takes the form of some kind of concession, trade, grant, swap, boon, promise, etc. Fill a path with enough niches that didn't use to exist before, and we experience it as "we can't get it done" because the cumulative energetic cost rises above a tolerable amount.
Historically, the emergent property in most capitalist structures appears to naturally tend towards influencing government agents via the principal agent challenge to support/enforce increasingly rentier behavior over time and deviate from capitalist structures; I personally believe this is due to scaling issues (Adam Smith was not a fan of the kind of large-scale capitalism we take for granted today). This wasn't supposed to happen according to some economic schools of thought, but here we are. And niche filling, and use of our government to enforce stakeholder extraction claims, appear as another form that this behavior takes.
By that stance, no one living in Chicago, NY, or any city with public transit are "truly independent", or whatever. Waiting a few mins for a train or bus is no different than being stuck in traffic.
When I lived in Chicago my quality of life went up precisely because I didn't need to use my car. I never had to worry about finding parking. All I needed to do was learn some of the bus timetables and where the CTA lines generally were.
For various reasons that could probably be debated for a long time, big project construction now is much, much, much more expensive than it was a century ago.
The work included moving the existing bridge, demolishing the existing bridge, earthquake resilience, and building a big new traffic interchange on the west side.
The inflation-adjusted cost of the original bridge was $7.5 million. The final cost of the new bridge project was about $324 million. (2016 dollars) The new bridge project was 43x more expensive than the original bridge, but so much is different, I don't think you can draw any conclusions about changes in construction costs.
Heck, I wonder if it would have been cheaper to build a more comparable direct replacement bridge for vehicle traffic, and then a completely separate walking/riding bridge. The new Sellwood bridge cost nearly three times what Tilikum Crossing did, and that has light rail and buses in addition to bikes & pedestrians.
It's interesting that the Sellwood bridge was so much more expensive than Tilikum (2.4x as much, not 3x, according to my quick search). I wonder why that was? I'm not a civil engineer, but if I were to guess, I would guess that it's a combination of the new Sellwood interchange and the need to deal with the existing bridge.
"By 1860, confidence was sufficiently high that a consortium of no fewer than six engineers—including Brown, Hollingsworth and George Pullman—took on one of the most impressive locations in the city and hoisted it up complete and in one go. They lifted half a city block on Lake Street, between Clark Street and LaSalle Street; a solid masonry row of shops, offices, printeries, etc., 320 feet (98 m) long, comprising brick and stone buildings, some four stories high, some five, having a footprint taking up almost one acre (4,000 m2) of space, and an estimated all in weight including hanging sidewalks of thirty five thousand tons. Businesses operating out of these premises were not closed down for the lifting; as the buildings were being raised, people came, went, shopped and worked in them as if nothing out of the ordinary were happening. In five days the entire assembly was elevated 4 feet 8 inches (1.42 m) in the air by a team consisting of six hundred men using six thousand jackscrews, ready for new foundation walls to be built underneath. The spectacle drew crowds of thousands, who were on the final day permitted to walk at the old ground level, among the jacks."
Edit: I'll add, also, survivorship bias. We see what was achieved. We don't see what was planned and never came to fruition for lack of political will or whatever reasons.
To paraphrase Upton Sinclair, "It's impossible for man to solve a problem, when his salary depends upon it."
Basically, large public works projects still seemed possible up to the early 1970s. The hypothesis is that it's only after two near-simultaneous changes, the rise of Reaganism-Thatcherism and the fall of the Soviet Union, that the state seemed to lose all of its potency. It seems like we placed all of our faith in the wisdom of the market, a machine that can never be stopped once given power.
They were much cheaper: http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/02/09/considerations-on-cost-...
The NYC subway + DC metro, while far from perfect systems, are basically built on the desirable "traditional city" model. In both cases, actually maintaining and funding the system to operate to a reliable and acceptable standard, instead of running it into the ground, is a controversial idea with limited political support.
Unless and until such things can be operated as a going concern on an ongoing basis, there is no point building any more.
Super Express service between New York and Boston in 90 minutes, cutting through central Connecticut with no stops, carried by new EMU-driven rolling stock.
tl;dr: Not happening. Instead, Amtrak’s gonna straighten out a few kinks in the current track so the Acela service can get up to and maintain higher speeds south of New York and in eastern Connecticut. Not sure how they’re gonna add more capacity, if at all.
To be fair, Hurricane Sandy and the associated disruption of the Gateway Project would have probably done that ambitious plan in on its own.
> Instead, Amtrak’s gonna straighten out a few kinks in the current track so the Acela service can get up to and maintain higher speeds south of New York and in eastern Connecticut. Not sure how they’re gonna add more capacity, if at all.
"Instead"? If I am reading that long-term plan correctly, this was the actual first phase of the project. The increased capacity comes from making the Acela trains longer and more frequent (per the proposal).
Edit: it's 20 years old, not 15: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westfriedhof_(Munich_U-Bahn) and the others pictured are also on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg-Brauchle-Ring_(Munich_U-... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candidplatz_(Munich_U-Bahn)
I used to live in Japan, now I live in Southern California near the Gold Line, which is the pride of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The Gold line is approximately as long as the dinky little private Tawaramoto Line that cuts a triangle between JR Oji Stn and Kintetsu Tawaramoto Stn in Nara Prefecture. Except the Tawaramoto Line always ran at least four cars while MTA's Gold Line only runs that many during rush hour. LA's crown jewel Union Station is approximately the size of a mid-size suburban station in Japan.
It's incredibly sad.
-spits out coffee comically-
I suppose compared to 1905 it's easier, but it's still not "easy." Tunneling never goes off without some kind of hitch, and almost always goes over budget or off-schedule.
I agree with the general thrust of the piece though.
If we want nice things -- like trains that work! -- we have to figure this out.
see, for example, https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2018/01/why-its-so-ex...
It was designed to get people into the city from the suburbs. As such, it completely fails today, where most jobs are also in the suburbs. It fails for reverse commuting as well, because, as noted, most stations are not within walking of commercial hubs.
That said, the expansion to Dulles came with lots of rezoning and denser development. Arlington started this before the expansion with the Courthouse-Clarendon-Ballston areas, with increased density and walkable zones. Reston and Herndon are doing similar things.
Now, if we can figure out how to build a line from Tyson’s to Rockville or Bethesda (without going all the way downtown and back out again).
Why? They could have been constructed downtown (assuming you mean in Vienna or Fairfax, rather than in the middle of the motorway not-especially-near either of them). Or they could have been surrounded by the shopping malls that instead are nearish (but too far to walk).
The town (Vienna) is almost 2km to the north, and doesn't have a station — yet it used to! There's a path/trail labelled "Washington and Old Dominion Trail", which is obviously an old railway line, ripped up and replaced with a bike path.
Since the article mentions Stockholm, I've chosen the metro station furthest from the centre of Stockholm , and the station before it.
It's a suburban area, but the stations are still in the middle of the 'suburban centres'. They're within 150m of multiple schools/colleges, a shopping mall, a culture centre and a theatre.
Stockholm also has commuter railway lines ("Pendeltåg") extending further from the city, not shown by Google's map. These stop at some fairly small places, but it will still be somewhere in the middle of each place.
Now the local government is spending billions to build the silver line expansion more or less parallel to the W&OD trail, except that it doesn't go as far. The stations locations for the Silver Line are not very good. They bypass the downtown areas of Reston, Herndon, and Ashburn (such as it is) so the rail lines can be built in the middle of the toll road. Only a couple of the Tysons Corner stops really make much sense. Even the Dulles Airport stop is a quarter mile from the terminal.
But really they didn't have the option of running it through town without buying out loads of expensive property (and no doubt a whole lot of politically unpopular eminent domain use) and spending decades in court fighting over it.
However, an upgrade path would be a great idea. That path must allow for the transit systems (either highly regulated utilities or community owned) to spread.
* New core has the target service level in place.
* That service links to a PROPER parking structure at en edge.
* Such structure should be SECURE (unfortunately monitored)
* Also package transport services in addition to people.
I wouldn't call those 3-4 hours closing down for the night. Even so, this break is used mostly for track maintenance where one can't have trains rolling.
Station cleaning and rolling stock maintenance is ongoing, construction/repairs that do not require cutting electric power to the trains are being done 24/7.
So, no excuse for NY.
Simply put, 24/7 is not as big of an obstacle to cleanliness as you make it out to be.
As other people mentioned, too, most of the work done in the evenings is track maintenance.
I used to live at the end of a line, and no matter the time of day there was very often a cleaner waiting by the frontmost door as the train pulled in. They could usually remove any litter before the train was due to leave, perhaps 5-8 minutes later.
The service is less frequent overnight (Friday and Saturday only), which leaves plenty of time to clean more thoroughly at the depot.
But I think that's a distraction. In comparison, NYC's subway looks dirty
a) by lack of maintenance. Some areas just need fresh paint.
b) by design. Bare concrete, unfinished, gloomy ceilings, yellow-ish lights, grey trains.
In other situations (shopping mall, fast food) Americans have remarked to me that Europe can seem clinical, due to the high temperature of the lighting. I think those places, and the NYC subway, look dingy. The same light could look cosy, but only in a café or bar.
Combined, the information shows they do a "deep clean" on every train every 21 days, and it takes four hours per carriage.
Then 15 minutes per carriage just under twice per day per carriage.
I suspect the cleaning I saw isn't part of this, but is the station cleaning staff feeling it's easier to pick the litter from the train rather that wait for wind to blow it out and around the station.
What's the point of 24/7 schedule, when it takes an hour and a half during the night for your train to arrive?
Idk, I think I might've preferred them to shut the train down say 12pm-6am to give them time to improve whatever they need to. It would be much more useful to know the exact time it would take me to get places. Trains at night are pretty empty,
I think with some adjustment, it wouldn't be a big deal for people, but maybe there is more to it.
EDIT: edited percentage to 20-30%
I found the NYC subway to be fairly decent but I found the feeling of darkness in many stations to be more of a big deal. I wouldn't mind waiting in stations that were much lit much better.
I’m not usually one to defend the MTA but this is wildly inaccurate.
"Instead of having a reliable system 20 hours a day let's have an unreliable system 24 hours a day" doesn't seem to make sense.
We used to have a lot of railroads in the US. Then the automobile came along, which started them going downhill, but there were still lots of them ... then the interstate freeway system was built (with planning help from the CEO of General Motors), and the railroad system couldn't compete for passengers. Passenger service was mostly gone 50 years ago.
But, you ask, did noone plan for the future? Well ... this is the U.S. We only build it well once, then we argue about who should keep it repaired. Which is why the majority of our bridges are in a dangerous state.
Anecdotally I had a civil engineer friend from Spain who always told me that the transportation budgets in the USA were tiny compared to in Europe.
It'd be great if it was politically feasible for the US government to take some money from the military and put it into ambitious public transportation infrastructure. National rail probably doesn't make sense but there are definitely regional and city systems that need some serious help.
So rail projects somehow never look economically viable compared to a magically free road system.
Where there is a will there is a way, as the saying goes, and America, and the UK, with their profit über alles obsession are happy to let infrastructure rot and make people use woefully underfunded and overcrowded rail systems rather than trying something “new.”
The big/speedy trains only cover a few paths...
Trains is always a system that picks winners & losers. The closer u r to the nearest station - the bigger winner u r.
I lived in London. Any location not within 1km of a station is basically a prison. Even if u have a car, you cant go anywhere (since no parking), and no one will come to you.
This is a particular problem when you adding trains (and impeding car) in an existing city.
Is it less convenient to live further from a tube station? Sure! Is it a prison? Absolutely not.
Will you go to a lawyer that requires a bus+train? A restaurant? A party u r not too sure about ?
Trains are relatively dependable. The last mile is a big problem.
(To be clear : i am pro public transport. I have a bike and ebike which i love, and car i hate.)
Not sure where you're going? Citymapper will route across both tube and bus, it'll even tell you exactly when you get off.
You pay using a contactless card, apple pay or similar, it works.
I live in Madrid, which has only a decent public transport system, not a great one like Tokyo, and I would absolutely do all those things you mention. Those thresholds only exist if your public transportation system is really bad.
Your point stands, though; a city can't think of replacing cars with a train and calling it done. Cars pack a tremendous combination of flexibility, speed, weatherproofing, isolation, etc that no other method of transport can rival by itself.