May 10, 2008 – 8:52 pm
Rail transport. It makes a city work.
If I have one regret about the cities I’ve chosen to live in thus far, it would be that I’ve failed to pick places that have decent inner city rail transportation. I’m talking about trains that go from where people live to where they want to go.
Auckland, in this respect, is an outright disaster. There are houses, and apartments. And there are city attractions and outlying areas of interest. And awaaaay off to one side is a train that visits neither.
Birmingham, while miles better, is a complete failure when held up against cities with tube systems, light rail, or – in this instance – the Elevated Train. There are three main stations in the city centre that don’t connect up, and two of the most interesting parts of town that I regularly visit have railway stations that will remain closed until the year 2518 or something.
In Chicago, I rode the Blue Line Train. I rode the Red Line Train. We got on and we got off. We were never more than a few blocks from a station, and my stupidly cheap 3-day pass did the trick. It was, to someone like me, something akin to a metropolitan miracle.
I love long train journeys at the best of times – but short-trip train or tram travel that’s also convenient is just so simple and brilliant, it’s almost worth considering it as an alternative to pollution, congestion and global warming. Just a thought.
City councillors everywhere take note: when they say you can’t build decent innercity rail because of the existing layout of buildings, roads and transport infrastructure – just stick it all up on stilts. Sorted.