Megan McArdle of The Atlantic has an interesting, very wonky podcast about transportation planning in America, where she interviews her father, who happens to have been on the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission. I hope to digest their report sometime soon.

It’s just chock full of information, so take the hour to listen. Some interesting tidbits, including a follow-up comment thread here:

  • Injecting even a dollar of federal funds into a new project adds 4-8 years to the completion time of that project. A 1992 report kicked off high-speed rail between Washington and Charlotte, and the EIS for that project should be complete by 2010.
  • In the early 20th century, there was forceful opposition to construction of the New York City subway, particularly complaining about the disruption construction would cause. Building rail really is about sacrificing convenience now for the sake of future generations, isn’t it?
  • Part of the reason for the success of NYC’s transit is not only that it allowed high density near the lines, but that it forbid high density in other places. If true, we’re in big trouble.
  • Towards the end there’s an interesting discussion of optimal fares and how to pay for rail capital costs.
  • At about the 40:00 mark, Seattle is cited as a positive example (no, really) because transit here is not viewed as something that just poor people take.

4 Replies to “National Transportation Planning”

  1. I’m sorry if I’m way behind on this one… or if it’s of no interest (or if this is even the proper spot to insert this), but I read on the ST homepage that they’re having a “fieldtrip” guided tour of the entire light rail route (for $10) on two dates coming up (Feb. 23 & 29). Here’s the link:

  2. That’s pretty scary stuff. The federal money comes at a huge cost apparently, now we know why ULink takes so long.

  3. There’s a great conversation about Streetcars and heavy rail. It’s a really good talk, thanks martin.

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