Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What If...

Today there was an article in the New York Times discussing what people could do with the $1.2 Trillion dollars that will be spent on the Iraq War. Well what if we spent it on fixed guideway? If spent in Capital projects alone, (there would have to be more funding for service) we could build at $30 million per mile 40,000 miles of Streetcars and Light Rail. Of course this is an oversimplification since some areas would be good with BRT and others streetcars and some would need to be in Subway but that is an awful lot of transit. If limited to the 100 largest cities, that is still 400 miles of rail per city.

Also lets think about return on investment and TOD. Imagine if it were all streetcars and we got 500% of our investment back in development. That would be $6 Trillion dollar economic boost. Of course again its oversimplification but you get the idea. There are other issues to deal with as well including TOD infrastructure, ped improvements, steel costs from such a large infusion in cash but if it were all under the buy America act, we could mass produce streetcars like the PCC streetcar in house and make TOD the standard instead of the rule.

As noted by Ed Tennyson this money that we are spending on the war didn't likely exist anyway but we can always dream…but lets dream of a world where we wouldn't even have to go to coal mines at home instead of oil fields afar to get our energy to move people until of course a better alternative energy source came along.

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