When I was in Shanghai a few years ago, I lamented that there were only two subway lines. Rest assured, I was told. Within 4 years, there will be 14 lines. This map shows the recent expansion of the Shanghai subway system. This massive expansion of urban infrastructure is unheard of in the US - but here in Portland, people are still plugging away at replacing a wonderful streetcar system which existed here 75 years ago.
I was recently shopping for a wood stove and I met a man who had grown up in Southeast Portland before the trolleys were destroyed. As a child, he would take the trolley into town without his parents - before he could drive a car. When the decision was made to tear up the trolleys, he asked his mom why they did it and she told him that people are stupid.
People are stupid.
It really is stupid when you think that we are already lamenting the loss of a comprehensive system which was so recently destroyed. Unfortunately, it is clear that the capital and labor expenditure to put these rail lines back in is now exorbitant. Perhaps it is that the highways are now running us dry? This morning on my ride to work I saw a backup of cars on SE Clinton St. This is a small local bike boulevard street. I wished some of the people who call Portland the most sustainable city in the US could have seen this!
Any way about it, I feel lucky at least to live in a town that is trying to replace the rail network which it once had. Perhaps my children will be so lucky as to ride light rail downtown.