Friday, March 18, 2005

Mass Transit & Trade Corridors

All agree high-speed rail has priority over new freeways inside large cities. Still, this does not mean bullet trains are appropriate or affordable in medium-sized cities or in servicing vast but separated trading areas of the continent.
Convertible and SUV lovers now find they have to share their romance of the road with exhaust-spewing 18-wheelers. Via freeway networks these monster rigs help get food to the table, raw materials to factories and finished goods to consumers.
The urban planner's solution to resulting road congestion is densified housing along transit-served arterial roads. But, the children of families relegated by income to reside in such areas suffer the most from poor air quality. See Californian's lament about costs of free trade:
The boomer bulge pushed subdivisions beyond the range of mass transit. To paraphrase those old Caterpillar ads, "There are no easy solutions ...just tough decisions." In the absence of intelligent decisions on birth control and immigration we continue to build houses, factories, schools and supporting infrastructure. And, where the run to the job takes 40 minutes by stop-and-go bus or 10 minutes by car, few will spend an extra 5 hours a week on a bus.
Within a generation the motor replaced the horse. Soon the gasoline and diesel that powers today's engines will be replaced. So, don't feel guilty about your present mobility; just be prepared to welcome cleaner motive power over the next few decades ...and support staking out a future trade corridor north of London.

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