Friday, October 7, 2011

Megaregional transit

via Intermodality

This is by now means a novel thought. A linked megaregional transit network is taken for granted in Britain, Japan, and most of the world’s industrialized countries. The German railway actually offers a trip planner for the entire country: any bus, light rail, subway, commuter rail, or regional rail stop in the country to any other.
We had this kind of network in the United States once, too. We let much of it disappear, and the rest has been divvied up by a confusing array of local, regional, statewide, and national agencies. The separation between Amtrak and commuter rail, for example, is arbitrary: commuters can ride Amtrak and intercity travelers can ride commuter rail. But federal law distinguishes between the two. The result is a fragmented network, one that can be hard to comprehend in its totality.
But now that we are talking about high speed rail, our existing networks become relevant. High speed rail wants feeders. Some riders will arrive by car and depart by taxi, but there’s no doubt that good local and regional transit connections make megareigonal high speed rail more relevant. And, make no mistake, high speed rail is an interregional mode. It’s cities less than 3 hours — 600 miles or so — apart where high speed rail is most effective. Houston to Dallas makes sense. Houston to Chicago doesn’t.
So let’s take inventory.
The closest the United States gets to megareigonal transit is in the Northeast. Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, the fastest railroad in the Western Hemisphere, links Boston to New York to Philadelphia to Baltimore to Washington. 

more about urban transportation in the USA:

U.S. Bike Programs Escape Federal Cuts, For Now

All Aboard! Getting America Back on Rail

Crowdsourcing Realtime Transit Updates

6 Reasons Driving Has Peaked in U.S. Cities

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