Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Trips to See the Real Thing

Using taxpayer dollars during a crunch to travel to Europe aside, it's always a good idea to bring people who have never seen transit in action to places where it works. Many have not been to places that have a diversity of transit and seen how it actually works. Many times what is in your mind is not the same as what can actually happen. I've seen this happen a number of times where people change their minds because of these trips. Trips to Portland and Europe have turned people around, much like this:
Bountiful Mayor Joe Johnson said he was so smitten that he not only dropped his opposition to a streetcar line from Salt Lake City but now prefers it to TRAX.
I'm sure there is still a lot of education, but seeing is a step in the right direction.

1 comment:

Bob Davis said...

I've read about the "surface contact" system that a French street railway uses: It's not a new idea--one of the very first attempts at running streetcars with electricity used it. The early system had a major problem--sometimes the contacts would stay electrified after the car had passed. As I recall, there was a magnet on the car that pulled up the contact, which would touch a bus bar energized to the proper voltage. Sometimes the contact would get stuck in the "hot" position: an obvious hazard. The new system may use a solid-state control to energize the contact when the car is in position. Be that as it may, it is possible to design overhead contact wire supports that are fairly unobtrusive. There was a tendency among some engineers designing contact systems to build them heavy enough to run Pennsy GG-1's at 90 mph. One traction publication author back in the 1980's had a "crusade" against overbuilt overhead, and printed photos of structures that looked as if the designer was paid by the pound of hardware he specified. If you look at some photos from the old days, it is often hard to see the trolley and span wires, so unobtrusive overhead can be done.