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Saturday, December 31, 2005

High Speed Rail & the SF Transbay Terminal

I wanted to save this link from yesterday's NYT Business section: "Overseas, the Trains and the Market for Them Accelerate".  Here's an excerpt which describes what we in the U.S. (both we the public, as passengers, as well as U.S. manufacturers) are missing out on:
a coming together of two developments in high-speed passenger train travel: technical breakthroughs in the way the bullet-shaped trains run, and the opening of vast new markets in Eastern Europe and Asia that are combining to give a steady boost to the business.

Unless they have traveled abroad, most Americans have had little first-hand experience with high-speed trains, and the problems with the Acela service on Amtrak have left its customers with a slightly bad taste. Hence, as countries including Italy and Spain - and emerging markets like China and Russia - open their pocketbooks for huge high-speed railway development, the United States remains on the sidelines, vulnerable to losing out on new technologies for propulsion and vehicle control.

Anj pointed out this article that was in the Times last week, about the proposed Transbay Terminal in downtown SF: "Trying to Build the Grand Central of the West ". Key to funding the Transbay Terminal will be high-speed rail to LA:

The Transbay Terminal - expected to be complete by 2013, three years sooner than previous projections - will serve nine Northern California counties and various transit agencies both public and private, including trains, subways, buses and ultimately, it is hoped, high-speed rail to Los Angeles. The surrounding 40-acre area, much of it opened up after highways damaged in the 1989 earthquake were demolished, is to become San Francisco's most densely populated neighborhood, based on a planning model known as Vancouverism.

Named after the city in British Columbia, Vancouverism is characterized by tall, but widely separated, slender towers interspersed with low-rise buildings, public spaces, small parks and pedestrian-friendly streetscapes and facades to minimize the impact of a high-density population. The Transbay neighborhood would have an estimated 350 people an acre, whereas the typical residential neighborhood with four-story flats has about 60 people an acre.

My favorite Bay Area transit website is SF CityScape; check out his page on the Transbay.

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