Friday, December 12, 2008

Time To Clean Out The Cincy Subway

What an amazing time we are living in!

The American automobile industry is about to collapse, and all our Republican lawmakers want to do is use this tremendous opportunity to break the backs of the U.A.W. once and for all. This little game of Russian roulette seems awfully damned reckless. After all, once one of these companies goes down, so goes their dealiers, and their suppliers who also supply the other two of the big three. While of course no one really knows what will happen after the first domino in the chain falls over, predictions are that this could put as many as 10 Million out of work. I mean, half a Mil new workers filed for unemployment benefits last month, and that news was generally received as a grim statistic.

Ten Million!

Oh, and should I offer the worn out observation that when it came to bailing out AIG or the other Wall Street investment firms, no Republican was crying about the injustice of those workers' wages and benefits on a "per hour" basis? I should? OK, well, observation so offered then.

But I'm not here to bitch about the Republicans. I'm here to talk about mass transit.

Today, Matthew Yglesias writes:

James Fallows writes about the rapidly expanding Beijing Metro — which has added several lines and extended others just during Fallows time living in China. This seems like an incredibly smart decision on the part of the Beijing government. Contemplating new heavy rail transit projects tends to become dizzyingly expensive and difficult. And yet when you look back at a Washington or a Boston or a Chicago — or even more so a New York or a Paris or a London — it’s clear that investments made in such projects long ago continue to pay enormous dividends, allowing for the creation of pockets of human and economic activity that simply could never be contemplated absent the existence of some high-capacity transit nodes.

By investing in this sort of thing at a moment that’s still pretty early in the game relative to China’s economic development, the PRC is helping to provide its capital with a set of advantages that will likely far outlast the current regime.

Beijing has apparently learned the lesson of the Cincinnati Subway.

Wikipedia reports,

By the turn of the 20th century Cincinnati was one of the ten largest cities in the United States, and had a rate of growth and economic importance that was similar to that of New York City and Chicago.

Today? Wikipedia tells us that if you combine all the surrounding counties in Ohio, Kentucky, and three from Indiana, Cincinnati is the 24th largest metro area in the US.

Oh, but there's this,

In August, 2008 Forbes magazine ranked Cincinnati as tenth in a list of "America's Hard-Drinking Cities".
That's something.

With all of that said, here's my question. Considering that our economy is fucked; that unemployment is already bad; that we're about to let a huge chunk of our manufacturing sector basically die, if for no other reason than to teach those damned rabble-rousing union organizers a fucking lesson they'll never forget; that Obama wants to stimulate the economy with public works projects; that cars create traffic nightmares and contribute to global warming; and that the return on investment on trains is documented to be both substantial and long-lasting ....

Might it be the time to look at finally completing the Cincinnati Subway, and even expanding it?

Ordinarily, there would be about a dozen reasons that could be readily thrown up against this idea. But the times are anything but ordinary.

As a footnote, the quick info box on the wikipedia page on the Cincinnati Subway is pretty hilarious:

Locale: Cincinnati, Ohio
Transit type: Rapid transit
Number of lines: 1
Number of stations: 3

Began operation: Never
Owner: SORTA

System length: 2.2 mi (3.54 km)
Track gauge: Broad gauge

1 comment:

Nani J. Cootsack said...

Incidentally I've just completed a week and a day of riding the MARTA to work here in Atlanta. The pluses are almost too many to name. The minus is limited to it adding about 12 minutes to my commute.

Just wish they'd expand the routes. And I wish I could get the WiFi to work.