Monday, September 17, 2007

Train in vain

The NY Times' "Business Travel" supplement today includes a telling juxtaposition. The lead front-page article is about the ever-increasing delays at airports. In short: They're bad, and they're only going to get worse.

Inside the section is another, shorter piece, about the rise of high-speed train travel in Europe. Travel between Paris and London will go down to 2h15 in November; the French high-speed train, the awesome TGV, keeps growing eastward, linking up to more and more European cities. And needless to say, this is comfortable, virtually hassle-free travel since train stations tend to be in the center of cities, and you don't need to show up hours in advance either.

It doesn't take much IQ power to see that the US is completely clueless when it comes to transportation, and that its stubborn emphasis on planes and automobiles is pathetically short-sighted. Of course air travel cannot easily be replaced on long, cross-country distances, but all the short and medium trips could be done by train…if there was a political will to spend on infrastructure. And don't give me any of that "But the Acela doesn't even work!" crap: It doesn't work well because not enough money has been pumped into the infrastructure. There should be high-speed trains covering the Washington-NYC-Boston axis (no, the Acela doesn't count), as well as San Diego-LA-San Francisco-Portland-Seattle, or various routes around Chicago. It's completely useless to spend hours worrying about small ways to improve your "carbon footprint" when public transportation—which can have a major impact, much greater than recycling your office xerox paper—is so woefully neglected.

1 comment:

Marc Geelhoed said...

How about through Chicago? I've argued that a line connecting Chicago-Cleveland-Cincinnati-Indianapolis-St. Louis-Minneapolis-Detroit made a big ol' pile of sense, but there's no political will for such a thing.