Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'


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is the sound of China passing us by.

Of course, we knew that would happen: They spent $300 billion US on rail infrastructure and Obama can’t get a bill for $53 billion to shore up our decrepit network. But what gets me is whomever the Times editor is that is highlighting user comments.

“When Americans want to go long distance, they fly?” What, and Chinese don’t? Their country’s as big as ours, and the whole point of high-speed rail is that not only is it comparable in speed to air transit, but it’s cheaper and much more efficient in transporting large amounts of people – as anybody who’s ever been in an airport in the last twenty years knows what it’s like to be constantly delayed.

“Chinese labor is cheaper.” Okay, whatever. They’ve spent $300 billion on rail transit. How much have we spent? They’re not getting it on the cheap: They’re getting it, damn the costs.

All it is is simple prioritization. They want high speed rail. They got high speed rail. We want large banker bonuses. We got large banker bonuses. Maybe I’m batting for the wrong side.

Ways to Improve Urban Transportation

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Traffic author Tom Vanderbilt asks for suggestions on Slate for ways to improve urban transportation.

The solution is simple, if difficult to get to from here. Consider the parameters: Mass transit is ineffective and inefficient because of the density (or more accurately the lack thereof) at which most Americans live. Thus, the solution is to increase density until mass transit is effective, which would involve that which the public finds so abhorrent: A change in our collective lifestyle.

As such, any efforts to change that – increasing subsidies of mass transit, decreasing subsidies of automotive transit, increasing land taxes, etc – will be met with political adversity and be dead in the water or, like strict land use plans, shelved indefinitely or immediately undermined with loopholes.

I mean, we could wait until all land is developed a la New Jersey, but, y’know… New Jersey.

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