Transit 101 and Transit Futures

The 101

Transit has throughout history been directly tied; either through profits, funding, or other mechanisms to land development and the growth of cities.  Even today the more urban cities, that maintain a night life, human element, and a penchant for growth all have a distinct transit element that grows larger by the year.  There was a short segment of time during the mid 20th century where transit services saw a lag in use.  But those years are now long gone and transit is seeing a resurgence as a way to mitigate the destruction of cities and instead breath new life into cities, culture, and other positive features of cities.

With the new administration putting a little more focus on real city growth, intelligent zoning, restructuring the car centric maze of roads into or at least in addition to human oriented cities we’re seeing growth in transit discussions and opportunities.  The future, in this regard for cities and their inherent generation of wealth, increased standards of living, and cultural history looks much better than it did over the last 50+ years.

Albeit we’re giving up a lot of other things for this new life, but that is for a different discussion.

Transit Futures

With that said I’d like to look to the future.  Currently we have a lot of sprawl that continues on a daily basis to drain billions of dollars form general budgets and feed it directly into foreign growth, foreign oil purchases, and depletes our internal valuations of all sorts of things, which most notable is our currency wealth generation.  This sprawl devalues human involvement in our world, pushing us aside for the modes of transport we use – namely the personal automobile.  This  mode of transport, heavily subsidized in hundreds of ways both directly and indirectly, has been sold via dubious means as a private industry, free-market creation.  It is however, anything but.  However it has created a massive hurdle to creating interconnected, human scale, comfortable, livable, and culturally vibrant cities.

With the connection of cities, internally and externally to cities, becoming a more desired focal point in politics and slowly in private industry again some key points are being brought up time and time again.

  • What is actually efficient, price competitive, and won’t significantly drag on our future generations.  In other words, what can we build that provides logistical movement of peoples without bankrupting our nation, our future, and our children’s future.  According to most sources we’re somewhere in the range of $1-16 Trillion behind in transportation infrastructure investment compared to China, Europe, and even Russia.  This includes highway, rail, and other infrastructure.  The question is, how do we fund it, how do we make the money for it?
  • How can we bulk up movement and travel in corridors between close cities without excessively expensive highways, Interstates, and Airports?  This leaves the absurdly obvious answer of passenger rail.  The nit picking then starts about what kind, how much, how fast, and where is the money for this also?
  • Highways, Interstates, and roadways in most cities are at their peak many hours of the day and increasingly this is becoming the standard operation of roadways.  Roadways don’t pay for themselves in the least, and many states are looking at privatization, tolling, and congestion pricing to find money to pay for these existing roads, new prospective roads, and other solutions.  Currently the other question is how to expand road capacity without destroying further neighborhoods and the ever unpopular eminent domain.

There are other points that keep coming up, but these are the main ones I keep seeing.  The recurring theme of all these points is funding.  Where can we, as a nation and peoples, come up with the money for this need & desire for better, more reliable, and more capable transportation?  I have two proposals for this, which have been mentioned many times in blogs and other places, but I’m going to tie these together since many are just suggested separately.

1. A national policy… elaborate…  or no national policy & increased focus on specific areas.

2. Private investment vehicles & interest generation.  Without this, there will NEVER be enough money in the industry to really build out like the nation desires and wants.

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