Tom: It depends on where you want to end up.
Oldlegodad - Can we find a more efficient and carbon-neutral solution than diesel? (“Clean turbo diesel”? Ain’t no such thing, friend! You just get different pollutants.)
Generally I agree that mass transit doesn’t work without real population density or_ train speeds so high that you get a virtual density. Siemens once proposed a _real high-speed train (the 240 mph kind) from Chicago down the Mississippi. That’s an hour and a quarter from Chicago to St. Louis, and about four hours from Chicago to New Orleans (2.5 hours by plane not including security!). Methinks we could do a few of those even in the wide open spaces.
And remember that a bunch of people live here in the Northeast Corridor of the CONTINENTAL US, and we’re not getting any federal help at this point to support the existing, very efficient mass transit except for the ridiculously overengineered DC Metro. I love the Acela train from Boston to NYC, but it can never go near top speed because it’s running on old track. It’s about 3.5 hours now. The distance is 210 miles. Put a French TGV, and we’re talking less than an hour on the ground, no security delays, comfortable seats, and you can plug in your laptop if you want.
By the way, by some standards, the greenest city in the US is Manhattan! 80% of residents don’t own a car, let alone drive one; most walk or take mass transit; and large buildings are potentially more efficient in using heat than single-family homes. Personally, I would need to be independently wealthy to live there, but lots of people feel differently.
We’ve spent the vast majority of our effort on highways and not on cleaner means of travel. A different balance might be a good thing.
April 12, 2017