Transportation headlines, Thursday, April 21

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.

Cities versus suburbs is the wrong debate (The New Republic)

This piece argues that the “suburbs” versus “cities” debate is a distraction from what really matters: walkability. Walkable urban places can be in downtowns or in suburbs and in fact, according to a 2007 survey, new walkable urban communities are evenly split between cities and suburbs. L.A. is a great example of a city of suburbs that can also be walkable urban. Take Old Town Pasadena, which is arguably more walkable and urban than downtown L.A. despite it being very much a suburb.

How not to plan for the future (New York Times)

This NYT editorial shows little restraint in criticizing plans to cut high-speed rail spending, calling the spending cuts in the new budget agreement “harebrained.” President Obama’s original plan to invest in high-speed rail – and in turn help America catch up with other industrialized nations – has certainly hit a speed bump with the latest budget agreement in Washington.

America’s railroads are still a century behind (Fast Company)

This infographic from Fast Company visualizes some of the points made in the above editorial from the New York Times – namely that the U.S. trails the rest of the world when it comes to rail. While the U.S. led the rail race for some time in the 19th and early 20th centuries, by the 1960s countries in Europe and Asia got on the fast track and left us in the dust. The fastest train in the U.S., the Amtrak Acela in the Northeast, can reach 150 mph. A TGV test train in France more than doubled that with a top speed of 357 miles per hour and the average speed of the TGV is often quicker than the Acela. And, to add insult to injury, the TGV can be cheaper to ride.