Tag Archives: High Speed Rail

Stopping Climate Change: Transportation

Without a doubt, to have a sustainable world, we have to get rid of cars.  Yes, even electric cars.  People will hate that, we have a car addicted society, I know.  Humans lived without cars before though, we can survive just fine without them.  Cars are popular I think because they give people mobility, the ability to travel, the ability to move around.  People who oppose public transportation projects do so primarily if the project involves taking away road space for cars.  It restricts their freedom to move.  Sadly, urban and regional planners never embrace the war on cars attitude, calling public transportation an alternative to cars.  To successfully fight climate change via eliminating as much if not all emissions from transportation, we have to create a world without cars and to do so there needs to be fast reliable public transportation everywhere.

If people can get anywhere using public transit, then there is no need for cars.  In today’s world, only major corridors in highly populated density areas of cities have quality public transit.  That leaves people living in non-major corridor areas needing cars to get around.  It’s why Portland, Oregon has horrible traffic even with its nationally praised light rail system.  It’s why the Bay Area struggles with traffic even with the BART.  People don’t need cars, roads or freeways.  People need ways of getting around.  To provide that need in a sustainable way, there needs to be public transit everywhere.  Even small cities like Wenatchee, Washington or Roseburg, Oregon need to have transit systems so their people can move freely without cars.

Public transit needs to be a war on cars.  All major cities need to have light rail, monorail or Gold Standard Bus Rapid Transit along their major corridors.  Gold Standard BRT is the BRT you see in Latin American cities like Bogota, Colombia and Curitaba, Brazil to name a couple.  Along non-major city corridors, there should be Bronze and Silver Standard BRT, as BRT is cheaper than light rail and monorail.  You get roughly four to five times as much BRT as light rail for every $1 billion.  The major corridor Gold Standard BRT routes should be served by bi-articulated, double decker bi-articulated or even tri-articulated buses, while the non-major corridors be served by articulated buses.  In my view, major corridors are highways, freeways, or roads with six or more lanes.  Non-major corridors would be two lane roads wide enough for parking on both sides, three lane roads, four lane roads and five lane roads.  Where there is BRT, the roads just get turned into busways, also called bus highways.  Since there’d be no vehicle lanes anymore, the extra space not used by BRT or light rail would be used for bike paths, growing plants and trees.

This makes communities look prettier by having less pavement and more nature.  Although buses and trains would come every few minutes at longest, communities would have much less noise pollution compared to having cars flying by every second.  In addition, there’d be no car accidents, and it’d be much safer for people to cross two bus lanes or train tracks compared to crossing four to six lanes of car traffic.  Two lane roads without parking and residential streets would simply be bike paths.  Two way bike paths only take up one car lane of space, so those roads would have one lane removed and used for plant growth.  The bike paths would be wide enough for emergency vehicles like firetrucks and ambulances to get to houses on those roads.  Bus highways would be used by emergency vehicles as well.

The other thing I have heard about cars is that they breed sociopathism.  They isolate the individual from the community.  Public transit brings people together.  So, for within the city, not only is going carless what the planet needs, it actually creates a lot of human benefits.  It reduces air pollution, reduces noise pollution, brings people together, makes communities safer, frees up space for other uses such as nature rehabilitation, biking, gardening and other stuff.

For traveling between cities in the same metropolitan area, there needs to be electrified high speed commuter trains.  Think of The Sounder, which connects Tacoma, Seattle and Everett in the South Salish Sea metropolitan area.  Another example of commuter trains is the Cal Train in the Bay Area.  For the most part, commuter trains would use current freeway corridors, as freeways are what connect cities currently.  While the Seattle area has just one commuter train route, many larger metropolitan areas would need extensive large commuter rail systems.  Another important idea is Express buses.  Express buses are a component of BRT that just takes you from Point A to Point B, with no stops in between.  This would complement commuter rail.  Freeways would be turned into busways for BRT, Express Bus and Coach Bus, which I’ll explain shortly.

For regional and national travel, there’d be high speed rail, maglev trains and coach bus.  High speed rail are those bullet trains in Europe, Japan and now China.  They go 150-180mph.  Maglev trains can go 500km, which is just over 300mph.  Coach bus is what Greyhound and Bolt Bus are.  However, there are photos online of imaginary tri-articulated double decker coach buses.  It’s basically a bus that can fit eight times as many people as a normal coach bus.  I would use those as my coach buses for regional and national bus travel.  Maglev is super expensive, so it’d be for certain corridors with lots of people, like the U.S northeast or San Antonio to Dallas, Texas, or Dallas to Houston or L.A to San Diego.  High speed rail would follow the freeway corridors, even non heavily populated corridors.  The coach buses would also use freeway corridors as well as U.S State routes like Route 66.  Being that bus highways are just two lanes, one side of a freeway can be removed as all freeways are four lanes or more wide, even in the middle of nowhere like eastern Montana.

Only for long range cross country and trans-continental travel would there be airplane travel.  With high speed rail replacing short distance flights, the shortest flights would be 1,000 miles.  Basically, airplane travel would only be for traveling distances that would take more than six hours by high speed rail.  This reduces greatly the number of airplanes in service, reducing air pollution and jet fuel consumption.  It also clears up the skies, making the job of airport controllers easier.  It means airports are less packed, and thus they can shrink, close terminals and remove runways.  Some airports which only serve short distance flights, like Eugene’s, could close and be used for other purposes, like wildlife restoration.  Wildlife restoration is another topic I’ll get to in another segment on stopping climate change.

Anyways, with all of this, on a global scale all around the world, it’d be possible to connect everyone to everyone and everywhere to everywhere using public transportation so that everyone can still enjoy their human right to move and travel freely, just without the earth killing sociopathic car.  You could get to anywhere in any city, and from any city to any city, using public transportation.