Thursday, February 4, 2010

Comparing Transportation Systems.

Having spent the majority of my life in the Washington-DC area, I'm quite familiar with what it's like to have an efficient public transportation mode at your doorstop. While people certainly have their complaints with the METRO, it still stands as one of the cleanest, youngest, most efficient system in the country. The above image is a shrunken image of an interactive map that compares the five largest systems in the country. In order, they are:
  • New York City (NYCT)
  • Chicago (CTA)
  • Washington DC (WMATA)
  • San Francisco (BART)
  • Boston (MBTA)
I, lovingly, refer to Boston's system (which is simply called the "T"), as the "dir-T". One can't lie, it's kind of gross. But I'd still take it over what's going on here in Columbus!

Report after report shows the dire need our country is in for more transportation options. For example, the American Society of Civil Engineers released a report last year giving our country's infrastructure a D average. Even with Obama's Reinvestment Act, there is still so much more this country needs in order to maintain competitive with the rest of the world. While I've never considered myself a fiscal democrat, this is one issue that I couldn't be more left on.

Think of it like this: the basic premise of an economy is the exchange of goods. In order for this exchange process to occur, there must be reliable, efficient networks of transportation. With a government that doesn't maintain its infrastructure, the possibility of this exchange dampens. As the rest of the world eclipses the US with their high-speed rail systems, for example, why would businesses want to continue with our outdated systems? Why focus a business strategy on utilizing rail to ship to Kansas City at an average speed of 33 MPH when goods can be shipped across China at over 100 MPH at a cheaper-per-mile rate?

So it's not just public transportation that needs investment--it's the grand picture of transportation. Fortunately, at least our current administration has a vision of achieving that picture. A vision, however. Not a reality.