Friday, February 26, 2016

Philadelphia Magazine: 20 smart transportation ideas reshaping the city

Congrats to Philadelphia Magazine for its (for Philadelphia) bold cover story, “The Revolution Will Not Be Motorized: 20 smart transportation ideas reshaping the city” (available here).
I have to say “for Philadelphia” because the Quaker City, for all its many charms, assets, and opportunities, tends to have bad habits of defeatism, self-doubt, and thinking small.
These 20 ideas, if implemented, would go a long way toward realizing the city’s potential.  However, although I like a lot of these ideas, most of them are more about cleaning up 20th century loose ends than envisioning 21st century opportunities.
Some are pretty obvious, such replacing the antiquated transit token system with modern farecards (#9).
Also obvious – but expensive – is #5, building the currently planned transit extensions: Norristown High-Speed Line to King of Prussia (a Tysons-type land use and transit opportunity), Broad Street Line to the Navy Yard (should have happened years ago), and a new BRT line along the Roosevelt Boulevard.  Although the article calls these “massive” transit expansions – and they are certainly expensive – they are really filling in some gaps more than transforming the system.
One of my favorites is #4, build a new Blue Line station at 22nd Street, the heart of new office construction in center city.  (Why this never happened in the past is a mystery to me.)
One missing idea: a better Northeast Corridor high-speed link.  The possibility of a new tunnel for a center city station needs to get serious consideration.
Another missing idea: connecting up the existing transit network.  At a distance, the transit map looks like there is a real network, but if you get up close – or explore it on the ground – you will find lots of dotted lines and inconvenient transfers. 

But enough quibbling.  Congratulations to Philadelphia Magazine for expanding the imagination of its readers as to how transportation can enable the long overdue flowering of the city’s greatness.

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