Thursday, April 23, 2015

London Underground looking good!

Having had occasion to use the London Underground for the first time in a while, I was happy to see it looking good!  Trains and stations were generally clean, and the service is obviously well used (trains ranging from mostly full to crowded).
One of the nicest features?  The station announcements on the trains were uniform, clear and loud enough to understand, and informative!

London is bursting with high-quality development, and the tube stations are obviously real development hubs.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day! Let’s electrify the transportation system!

There’s lots to consider on Earth Day: lots of progress in some areas, lots of problems in other areas, lots of potential solutions, lots of roadblocks to solutions. 
I’ll just mention one potential solution (to multiple problems), part of my usual refrain: Electrify the transportation system!
Converting the surface transportation network to electric power won’t fix every problem, but it’s hard to see how the big problems can be fixed without it.  It moves us toward a lower carbon footprint (if we simultaneously promote cleaner electricity generation), energy independence, cleaner air, and long-term sustainability.

There are many things we can do to advance electrification, but here’s one initiative I like.  Paris has some big time, big city air pollution issues (see a recent story here).  One of the steps they have taken toward cleaner urban transportation is “Autolib’ Paris,” which bills itself as “the full electric car-sharing service for Paris” (their website here).  Sure looks to me like an idea worth pursuing!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Why we can’t have great trains

National Journal has a new article on this topic (link here) that offers a pervasively pessimistic appraisal of the chances for high-speed (or otherwise superior) long-distance rail service in this country.

Having just returned from riding some great trains in England and France (the following photo of French countryside was taken from a Eurostar Channel Tunnel train – 2 ½ hours from London to Paris) it’s hard not to feel discouraged in the U.S.  Our national fumbling around on intercity rail policy is really just a piece with our fumbling around with any sort of policy that requires some type of national purpose or direction – not that that’s encouraging.  I think we’ll get their some day – hopefully with more dispatch than the Silver Star.