I started reading Fogelson’s Downtown with the intention of learning more about elevated trains, and though I’ve been slightly disappointed in that regard (more to come on that after I finish and attempt a more comprehensive review), he does include a lot of interesting history. I’m posting this more so that I remember it, but the first paragraph offers an interesting rejoinder to those who say that els could never be viable because of the blight factor, and the Second Avenue elevated line makes a cameo towards the end:
In view of the longstanding and deep-seated opposition to elevated railways, the construction of elevated highways is more than a little puzzling. This opposition has grown so vociferous that by the 1920s most Americans had come to believe that elevated railways should never have been built in the first place. Despite assurances by several leading engineers that it was possible to build els that were quiet, clean, and attractive (and would not reduce property values), they remained convinced that under no circumstances should any more be constructed.
The cities should not only stop building elevated railways, many Americans insisted; they should start demolishing them. This idea, which had surfaced in the first two decades of the century, caught on in the 1920s, especially in New York and Boston. In favor of it were abutting businessmen and property owners, who believed that the removal of the els would improve trade and raise values. Allied with them were public officials (among them Julius Miller, borough president of Manhattan and chief advocate of the West Side Elevated Highway), who thought the demolition of the els would foster economic development; traffic experts (including New York City Police Commissioner Enright, another advocate of elevated highways), who assumed that the removal of the elevated structures would facilitate the flow of vehicular traffic; and others who felt that the els were unsightly, unnerving, and anachronistic, a once valuable form of urban transportation that had long outlived its usefulness. By the mid and late 1920s – or even earlier, according to the New York Times – most Americans were convinced that it was only a matter of time before the elevated railways were removed from the city streets. Noting that the Sixth Avenue el “ought to have been taken down years ago,” New York mayor John F. Hylan predicted in 1924 that there would soon be no elevated structures left in Manhattan. Two years later the Massachusetts Division of Metropolitan Planning reported that popular sentiment would eventually force the demolition of at least some of Boston’s elevated railways. The els “are doomed,” wrote architect Ernest Flagg in 1927, “and the sooner they go the better.”
And they went, though not as soon as expected. At the behest of the Forty-second Street Property Owners and Merchants Association and other midtown business interests, the New York state legislature approved the demolition of a short elevated line on East Forty-second Street in 1923. Two other spur lines were torn down later, one in 1924 and the other in 1930. During the late 1930s New York City also demolished the Sixth Avenue el, whose owner, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, had gone into receivership several years earlier. (Sixth Avenue property owners had urged the city to tear down the el and replace it with a subway in 1923. They had even offered to pay the cost. But the project had gotten bogged down because many New Yorkers felt the el should not be demolished until the Sixth Avenue subway was finished.) Shortly after, the city also tore down the Second and Ninth avenue els in Manhattan and a few lines (or parts thereof) in Brooklyn, the remains of the defunct Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Company. A decade later the city tore down the Third Avenue el, the oldest in New York, a “relic,” wrote the general manager of the New York City Transit Authority, of a “bygone era.” After its demolition, there were no els left in lower and mid Manhattan, only in upper Manhattan and some of the outer boroughs. Change came more slowly in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston, where the authorities were reluctant to tear down the els, no matter how “undesirable” they were, until they could be replaced with subways. But after World War II Boston began to demolish them too.
Elevated rail lines are far smaller in footprint than elevated highways, and although highways may have been quieter than rail lines a century ago (though I’m not sure if this is even true), the technology has surely shifted in rail’s favor with regards to noise. And even if the technologies were equally obtrusive on a per-mile basis, you much fewer less elevated rail miles to transport the same amount of people as with an elevated highway – perhaps even almost an order of magnitude less:
John A. Miller was one of the few Americans who was puzzled by the construction of elevated highways. “Elevated railways with a capacity of 40,000 persons per hour in one direction are [being] torn down,” he wrote in amazement in 1935, “while elevated highways with a capacity of 6,000 persons per hour are being erected.”
Fogelson points out that one advantage that elevated highways had over rail was that they were often built alongside rivers, though there’s no reason rail couldn’t be built similarly (from what I understand, this is something that Japan does quite frequently). But mainly the difference in opinion between rail and road seems to be the simple fact that elevated railways ran through desirable areas, whereas highways were built after blight had already set in (indeed, they were seen as a cure for blight, however ridiculous that might seem to us today). In other words, the wealth that created the elevated lines was their undoing. (Ideology might have had something to do with it – els were built privately whereas elevated highways were built by the government – but I don’t think it was a huge factor.)
Anyway, hopefully I’ll get to say more about els when I write the book review, but I’m curious to know what you commenters think. Last time I posted about them some people accused me of playing down their negative externalities, but after having looked into it a bit more, I still think that they’re an underrated mode of transit (less noise and a smaller footprint seem to be the selling points). Benjamin Hemric even sent me a link to the Monorail Society’s website, and while I went into it with massive biases (I blame the best Simpsons episode) – which are not assuaged by the site’s shitty design, I should add – I came out thinking that they might actually have some merit. The Seattle Monorail has soured a lot of American’s against the technology, but you cannot condemn a whole mode of transportation based on the failure of American planners, who, let’s be honest, can screw up just about anything. Japan apparently even has private monorails, according to the site. So, what do y’all think – are els viable 21st century solutions? What about monorails?
Boris saysJanuary 3, 2011 at 1:53 am
I definitely like the idea of well-planned elevate rail or monorail – but unfortunately every recent attempt in the US has been laughable. The Vegas monorail was built in just about the worst way possible, and nearly every person that I talk to uses that system as a reason to why monorails suck.
Rhywun saysJanuary 3, 2011 at 2:11 am
I love how the “monorail montage” on that site’s home page is all examples of serious transit in cities around the world, while the American examples are either toys or airport shuttles – I think that says it all.
No, “serious” els or monorails don’t stand a chance in the US, especially in an urban environment like NYC where NIMBYism and a seeming preference for expensive, deep tunnels (or nothing at all) over anything as practical as an el or a monorail are very powerful.
Aaron Brown saysJanuary 3, 2011 at 2:56 am
“No, ‘serious’ els or monorails don’t stand a chance in the US”
Umm…been to Chicago lately? A pretty good chunk of our rail transit system is elevated (we even call the whole system – including the subway portion – the “L”), and future expansions are planned to be at least partially elevated as well (see the Red Line extension).
To Stephen’s point, I think people in Chicago felt the same way about the L as a blight for some time, but I think it’s image has improved and continues to do so, particularly downtown. While the streets where the L runs are a bit more run-down than the rest of the Loop, that seems to be changing as people recognize the value of being near transit that outweighs the noise/darkness/etc. In my opinion Wabash Avenue is one of the best streets to walk in the Loop. And where the L runs through alleys (as is the case in the North and South Sides), it goes through some very prestigious/expensive neighborhoods (Lincoln Park, Lake View, etc.).
Angus Grieve-Smith saysJanuary 3, 2011 at 3:19 am
As I wrote back on Jarrett Walker’s post from 2009, the key is the noise. I live in Woodside, Queens, where the #7 train viaduct is made of unsoundproofed steel, and it’s impossible to have a conversation while the train is going overhead. Roosevelt Avenue is also noticeably darker where the tracks run overhead.
The viaduct in Sunnyside a little further west is much more pleasant, being covered with concrete and in the median of Queens Boulevard, and the elevated Paris metro lines that run above boulevard medians are similarly okay. I remember the L in Chicago was nicest where it goes through the middle of blocks. Both those solutions create relative dead zones, though, where the only things you can really put under them are factories and parking. I really can’t think of a pleasant elevated that runs directly above a street.
Stephen saysJanuary 3, 2011 at 3:29 am
You’re absolutely right about Chicago, and I always point that out when people say that els cannot generate value. However, no matter how many times that you and I point that out, the public is still going to believe it. Politically speaking, Rhywum may be right as well.
Stephen saysJanuary 3, 2011 at 3:41 am
First of all, I think that there have probably been a lot of technological advancements in noise control for elevated lines since the American systems have been refreshed. This is one of the reasons I bring up the monorail – because it is supposedly very quiet. But secondly, I think that these systems could, if upzoning were allowed around stations, generate value far in excess of what they would take away.
In the longrun, it may even be possible to replace highways – which currently run through places far more blighted than any el could be – with els. We could also run them through the rivers, like they do in Japan.
But no matter how reasonable I think my ideas are, you’re right that Americans really hated the noise of elevated rail, and in the absence of a system update since the municipalization of the els, they may always associate the els with noise.
Rarian Rakista saysJanuary 3, 2011 at 3:47 am
Public transit projects require cheap non-union labor to be built and union labor to keep functioning, it is an almost impossible system to setup and maintain cheaply.
Every union backed project to build out rail takes 10-20 years and every private light rail system in the country is gone, they could not leverage taxes to pay for upkeep.
Matt Sauer saysJanuary 3, 2011 at 4:17 am
See also the Wuppertal suspended monorail.
Alon Levy saysJanuary 3, 2011 at 4:51 am
It’s a nitpick, but the Third Avenue El was the third built, not the first. The Second Avenue El was the last built. It’s politically significant, because the decision to demolish the el on Second Avenue and leave the one on Third intact pending construction of the subway was a backhanded way to force full demolition. Second Avenue El was much more advanced than Third Avenue El, so it stood better chances of staying intact and it would be politically harder to demolish it without replacing it with a subway.
As for monorails, the main advantage is that they’re quieter than regular rail and don’t require as wide an el. There are many such technologies – rubber-tired metro, linear induction, low-speed maglev (actually used in Nagoya). All have the same basic disadvantage, which is that they’re incompatible with anything else.
Louis Haywood saysJanuary 3, 2011 at 9:49 am
Again, I think they are better than nothing, and probably better than blowing every last municipal cent on deep-bore tunnels (what about the old cut & cover??). But as I commented last time, I don’t think Times Square would look very nice if it had a a triple-deck 10-track interchange (see http://goo.gl/maps/OcbT) blocking the sun (not to mention the lights).
ant6n saysJanuary 3, 2011 at 5:01 pm
Modern steel rail operation is quieter than rubber tire metros (except at tight turns). At some point most of the noise is due to the traction motors, which both systems have.
Geoark2000 saysJanuary 4, 2011 at 7:12 am
ULTRA light monorails that carry small passenger cars would make more sense than the very expensive elevated trains and conventional monorail. Some of the ultralight monorail designs would make a very small visual impact and some would be very quiet. The SkyTran designed by Douglas Malewicki would “float” on permanent magnets and be exceptionally quiet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SkyTran
Of course, as I am sure you are aware; there are many reasons to move toward Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) systems …such as the lower cost, the network aspect, and the idea that it would utilize existing easements.
Probably one of the best arguments for the PRT is that it could probably operate completely free of public subsidy from fares.
“…Every single vendor in here will
tell you if we build this system, it will pay
back its cost with revenue. Light rail takes
$10 million a year of public subsidy. The bus
system, 25 percent paid for by users, and let’s
not even go into the automobile, the most
heavily subsidized transportation system.
PRT is the only system mentioned that will
pay for itself in terms of operating cost.”
Ted K. saysJanuary 5, 2011 at 2:26 pm
Something I’ve noticed in various pictures of “els” is that the adjacent buildings are vertical slabs without setbacks. How much noise attenuation would result from having setbacks and terraces with or w/out plants ? I’ve been watching the re-issued “Blues Brothers” movie and I get the feeling that part of the noise problem (Elwood’s room segment, about thirty mins. in) is due to reverberation. Also, having setbacks would increase the amount of light reaching the ground.
Alex saysJanuary 5, 2011 at 3:12 pm
Brilliant that your link is to a PRT conference held by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
Minnesota has been studying PRT since the 70s, when the metropolitan government rejected a plan by the transit system for heavy rail, and decided instead to study PRT and BRT. 30 years later, Minnesota is apparently still studying PRT, we have one BRT station, and the city has about doubled in land area due to sprawl.
I certainly hope that the U of M funded this conference, because the transit system in the Twin Cities raised fares last year and I didn’t hear any protests from MnDOT.
Benjamin Hemric saysJanuary 6, 2011 at 2:38 am
Taking a break from some projects I’m working on, I like to post some quick comments:
1) For those who might be interested, here’s a link to a related discussion (on elevateds, noise, monorails, etc.) on the “2Blowhards” blog. The original post was entitled, “Sixth Avenue Remembered.”
In case the link doesn’t work, just “Google” the following words: Ladies Mile 2Blowards, and the thread should be the first entry listed.
I have three comments in the thread, and one of them has URLs (correct name?) that can be cut and pasted to get to web pages with some pictures of the beautiful buildings that were built in the 1880s, or so, alongside the Sixth Avenue “el.”
2) Although I have mixed feelings about The Monorail Society’s webpage (in some ways, I kind of liked some earlier versions of it better), I do hope that people will check it out especially for the following:
a) A discussion of the benefits of monorails (written by, admittedly, Monorail enthusiasts), which is entitled “Why Monorail?”
b) A comparison of monorails with heavy rail and light rail. It’s entitled, “Monorail vs. Other.”
c) A discussion of costs which is entitled, “Cost?”
d) A recent news item (from 1/4/11) about “plans” to tear down the monorail in Sydney, Australia. This news item includes nice photo tours of this monorail system. (To get to the photo tour, click on “TMS Sydney Monorail Photo Essay.”)
Although I can’t seem to find them, earlier versions of this website had pages that, if I remember them correctly, (i) directly addressed the supposed switching problem of monorails; (ii) illustrated the ways people have successfully overcome some aesthetic problems; (iii) had extensive info and a photo tour of the “heavy-duty” and profitable (?) Tokyo-Haneda system.
3) Regarding noise. Although conventional elevateds can, supposedly, be quiet and beautiful, it seems to me that this is only with a lot of effort and money (e.g., lots of money spent on welding rails and keeping the steel wheels from developing flat spots, etc.). On the other hand, monorails seem to be relatively quiet and beautiful without special expenditures of time and money.
4) Personally speaking, the supposed visual blight of elevateds doesn’t bother me. (I think els are not that ugly, and could pretty easily be made to be rather beautiful.) It’s the noise that has bothered me. (See my comments in the 2Blowhards thread.)
The Sunnyside segment of the No. 7 line is both attractive and relatively quite — although it’s on an usually wide, boulevard-like, street.
Also, the stations of some of the elevated lines in Manhattan seemed to be rather pretty, especially the Swiss Chalet style ones of the Sixth Avenue line (?).
Wednesday, 1/5/11, 9:38 p.m.
Leroy W. Demery, Jr. saysJanuary 6, 2011 at 11:42 pm
An important design issue has been ignored.
New York elevateds were almost “purpose-built” to be extremely noisy. As explained by E.L. Tennyson, P.E. (former Deputy Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and former Deputy Commissioner for Transit Engineering, City of Philadelphia):
“Open girder elevateds vibrate in sync with the movement of the trains making a large ‘sounding board.’ Ballasted deck el’s absorb most of the sound so nothing much vibrates like a sounding board.”
New York elevateds were built with an “open-girder” design. By contrast, the Philadelphia elevateds have ballasted decks.
Philadelphia’s Market Street Elevated has been completely rebuilt from the ground up. This would probably not have been approved had the original 1906 structure been built with NYC-style open girder construction.
Bay Area Rapid Transit “aerial” structures are not “small,” but they are not “massive” either. Noise levels are relatively low compared to New York – but noise is an issue. About 10 years ago, several Bay Area coworkers said that East Bay landlords have to charge lower rents for units adjacent to BART structures because of noise.
The Manhattan elevateds have a cult-like following today – and, regrettably, Fogelson has fallen under the spell. The els required significantly more labor to operate than the subways, not because they were els per se but because the rolling stock was very old and had fewer “labor-saving” features. By 1940, the remaining Manhattan els cost roughly twice as much to operate per passenger-mile than the subways. Moreover, many people believe that the BMT avoided bankruptcy prior to municipal ownership – which IRT did not – because BMT was better managed. Not so. IRT had to bear huge operating losses from its elevated division. This must have been “a factor” on BMT’s balance sheet, but a relatively smaller one.
A good idea of why the Manhattan els were unsuited for today’s traffic may be gained from films of the “survivor,” the Third Avenue El. Perhaps the best bears the austere title “3rd AVE. EL.”
It may be downloaded from the Prelinger Archives website:
Note, among other things, the short train length, the double tracks (the 6th Avenue Subway has four tracks), the ancient cars, the low speeds – and the noise.
Leroy W. Demery, Jr. saysJanuary 7, 2011 at 12:12 am
The story about the Second Avenue and Third Avenue els is an urban legend popular among social-science types.
The City of New York was determined to get rid of the els, ASAP, because of operating losses. The el enthusiasts somehow forget that, even after municipalization, the overall system “had” to recover all expenses from fares. The els had been losing traffic since the mid-1920s, and by 1940 were losing torrents of money.
At 1939, the Second Avenue El carried 30 million passengers. The Third and Ninth Avenue els carried a total of 139 million. Incomplete data does not permit the precision I’d like, but, to the nearest ten million, the best I can do at this point is 110 million for the Third Avenue El and 30 million for the Ninth Avenue El. I have a nagging suspicion that the Ninth Avenue estimate is too high – it had been paralleled very closely by the IND Eighth Avenue Subway – but I have insufficient data to document this.
In any case, it’s clear that the Third Avenue El was carrying 3-4 times the traffic of the Second Avenue El at 1939. No surprise that it survived to 1955, and the Second Avenue line did not.
Leroy W. Demery, Jr. saysJanuary 7, 2011 at 12:39 am
Japan has no private-sector monorails other than the Tokyo Monorail, which is classified as an “airport-access railway.”
All of the “other” systems are “third-sector” undertakings, organized along the lines of a for-profit corporation but with some of the capital provided from public funds.
(The cynic in me wants to describe many “third-sector” transport ventures in Japan as “collateralized municipal borrowing.” The stated capitalization amounts are, um, significantly less than the stated construction costs. Rather than issue debt directly, the municipality has the “company” issue the debt. Interesting.)
Japan also has no plans, except perhaps for “discussions,” for any new monorail lines or systems. A very few extensions are under active planning, but are not likely to move quickly because of financial considerations.
The Monorail Society has serious issues with “bias.” A few years back, financial problems encountered by the Chiba Monorail led a newly-elected reformist mayor to order a study of all options – including closure. Whether or not you wished to take that seriously, the action did bring the Chiba Monorail under “technical threat of closure.” I reported that as such, and the monorail fanatics went bonkers. One accused me of “biased translation.” I posted the URL to the “source document” (in Japanese). No further comment; no surprises.
Small-profile metro (subway) lines have become rather popular from the 1990s. The length of just one line – the O-Edo Line in Tokyo – exceeds that of all monorails ever built in Japan.
Alon Levy saysJanuary 7, 2011 at 1:50 am
Operating losses? Dude, the entire system was bleeding money. It had cost around 10 cents per passenger to operate since the post-WW1 inflation.
If your nagging suspicion on the 9th Avenue El holds water, then what of the 3rd Avenue El, which passed half a block within the Lexington subway?
Stephen saysJanuary 7, 2011 at 3:52 pm
I should also add that one of the reasons they were bleeding money is that they were legally forbidden from raising fares beyond 5 cents/ride.
Leroy W. Demery, Jr. saysJanuary 8, 2011 at 7:44 am
$0.10 per passenger in “direct” or “total” operating expenses since ca. 1920?
See Cohen, Alexander Nobler. 2001. “Fallen Transit: The Loss of Rapid
Transit on New York’s Second Avenue.” The Third Rail, July 2001.
This was once available online; the server seems to be down at the moment.
During the first seven months of 1940, the IRT’s subway division was profitable (before “other charges,” e.g. taxes, rent paid to the city). The elevated division was not. During the first seven months of 1940, the els lost more than $2.3 million. “Other charges” pushed this to more than $5.6 million. Remember – those were 1939-1940 dollars, and the losses were incurred not during a full year, but seven months.
In “unit” terms, the els cost about $0.07 per passenger in direct operating expenses, or about $0.11 including “other charges.”
The IRT subway division did not cost $0.10 “per passenger” to operate during the interval in question. The direct operating expense was less than $0.04.
Cohen writes, “The IRT’s els were a money-losing business, and of them, the Second Avenue el was especially unprofitable.”
La Guardia hoped that a unified subway system could be operated profitably – and moved to get rid of the money-losing segments as quickly as he could.
Cohen also writes, “In 1939, Second Avenue was a burnt-out tenement district. A brief 1939 report by the Mayor’s Committee on Property Improvement describes the conditions of buildings along the corridor. 14½ percent of all lots between Chatham Square and the Harlem River were “non-income producing,” which is to say, either abandoned buildings or vacant lots. Of the 2,018 properties along the avenue, 1,383 were old-law tenements still in use. An additional 207 properties were boarded-up tenements. The report estimated that more than 40,000 people lived in the tenements along the avenue. The entire corridor featured only four “modern apartment houses.” Although conditions varied along the length of the avenue, with East Harlem featuring the most abandoned old-law tenements, and Yorkville the fewest, the general prognosis was that the avenue was poor and dilapidated and in need of redevelopment. The report anticipated the demolition of the Second Avenue el, and its replacement with a subway line. Although the report is mostly an analysis of the situation in 1939, rather than a redevelopment plan, the document does state that “the removal of the ‘L’ …offer[s] an exceptional opportunity for an encouraged program of rehabilitation and reconstruction.” It was thought that removing the ugly el structure could only improve the troubled avenue.”
Believe what you wish, but the statistics – which, for NYC “back then,” are about as good as you’ll find – do not back you up.
Leroy W. Demery, Jr. saysJanuary 8, 2011 at 8:08 am
This particular shibboleth needs serious reconsideration.
A fare increase from $0.05 to $0.06 would have been a 20 percent hike – rather steep. Furthermore, there’s no doubt that this would not have increased revenue by 20 percent.
I’ve looked through many transit operating statistics (… far too many …). I generally leave the financial details to others, because I believe that ridership details (among other things) have not been studied adequately.
National transit ridership began dropping in either 1927 or 1928 (forget which). Last summer, I came across evidence that this was pushed, in part, by fare increases. Ridership of some systems dropped catastrophically during the five-year intervals I looked at. I mumbled, as the youngsters say, “WTF?” The obvious “causal factor” was fare increases.
An example from a “large” city: The Chicago Rapid Transit Company abolished a weekly pass after determining (by studying the “average” number of rides taken) that the revenue did not pay the “cost of service.” Result: Ridership began to fall, a couple years before the onset of the Depression. CRT probably did not lose revenue in proportion (I’ll pull out the notes when it’s not so late) – at least not immediately.
New Orleans did the opposite: When the Depression hit, the company cut the fare by one cent (from $0.08 to $0.07, as I recall), expressly to retain ridership.
Many people take for granted that the “five-cent fare” was a major factor in the undoing of private-sector transit. I think this needs to be reevaluated.
Leroy W. Demery, Jr. saysJanuary 8, 2011 at 8:14 am
“Probably one of the best arguments for the PRT is that it could probably operate completely free of public subsidy from fares.”
… because, to paraphrase a clever magazine editorial I once read, proponents and prospective vendors say so.
Leroy W. Demery, Jr. saysJanuary 8, 2011 at 8:49 am
A bit heavy on the ideology, aren’t we?
At 1917, annual electric railway operating expense as a percentage of operating revenue was 65 percent.
Taxes were seven percent of annual operating revenue.
Total salary and wage expense as a percent of annual operating expense was 63 percent. That meant that salary and wage expense was already more than 40 percent of annual operating revenue.
Average annual compensation per staff member, $906.43, is equivalent to about $15,000 today.
The average work week was 48 hours. I estimate that the hourly wage would have been roughly $6.00 today.
Alon Levy saysJanuary 9, 2011 at 12:49 am
Leroy, the US price index jumped by a factor of 2 during and after WW1. The five-cent restriction forced the subway operators to cut the real fare in half between 1913 and 1920. There was a little bit of deflation in the 1920s, but by then labor costs were a lot higher, and so was the ability of people to afford a higher fare.
The 10-cent operating cost figure I saw at the NYC Transit Museum; it dates to the 1920s. At the time the IND did not yet exist, but conversely labor costs were higher; in addition, I may not remember right, but it may have been then that the IRT cut train staffing to just one conductor, saving even more money.
Bagera saysApril 11, 2014 at 3:44 pm
It is not that elevated rails cannot be useful. They often are and when building subway lines into a suburb or a low-density area an above ground construction would be just fine. The problem with Chicago is that most of their downtown and surrounding neighborhoods have an ugly rusty industrial looking elevated rail-construction – that also give away considerable disturbing noise. Even if it looked good – it still would look terrible. You want good communications but you do not want to see them.
Only 14 percent of the Chicago L stations are below ground. The same ratio for Washington DC is 54 percent. A smarter and more modern city go with elevated and ground level rails in not so populated areas but not in the entire city. When it comes to economics I think – instead of bailing out investment banks – the federal state should use the money to build much needed infrastructure. It also creates jobs. Chicago needs a subway that cover the Loop and the near South, West and North side. It may not be “profitable” but mass-transits are seldom profitable and does only need to carry part of their entire financial weight.
Ian Mitchell saysMay 3, 2015 at 12:20 am
And fares compared to cost of transportation today?