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Old 04-24-2015, 04:54 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia, PA
183 posts, read 220,488 times
Reputation: 115

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To the OP, the only American city that can be "European-ized" is Philadelphia. Other places simply don't have the right bones.
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Old 04-24-2015, 06:22 PM
 
Location: Pennsylvania
1,386 posts, read 1,558,502 times
Reputation: 946
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorge Bueno View Post
@cwa1984 Thanks for the all informative responses. You are quite knowledgeable about North American rail and rail in general.

Where do you envision passenger rail in North America 30 years from now?
A lot more expansive but probably not quite like Europe like everyone keeps pushing for due to issues of sprawl and differences in rail development in the United States compared to Europe as well as differences in needs and wants. One example in my own opinion American's generally love the freedom of their cars and also like the idea of traveling by train. That's probably the reason why the auto train service provided by Amtrak is it's most profitable long distance train.



This is one service where I can see the American public going "yeah that's worth expanding" because it provides the best of both worlds. Long distance train travel across the nation and when you get to your destination you have your own personal vehicle you can get around in. I can see that being vastly expanded across the United States.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorge Bueno
Do you think California will go through with their high speed rail plans?
Probably not because it has snowballed out of control already to be blunt. California will eventually get high speed rail but the current project is very likely to get scrapped.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorge Bueno
Also, I agree that it would not be wise to jeopardize freight rail in Chicago as it is key to the national economy, but I do wonder if something could be done to improve the current Metra system(commuter rail) that exists in Chicago to improve inter connectivity between the suburbs and the major airports .
I won't even attempt to try and give an answer here because you would need the 7 major railroads in the United States plus Amtrak, the City Government of Chicago, the airports, the State Government of Illinois and the federal government to have a sit down and try and figure out what needs to be done. That is going to be a very long and drawn out negotiation that I won't try and speculate on the outcome of how they would "fix Chicago".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorge Bueno
As for my belief that the high speed upgrades are largely for the benefit of freight, I was thinking of the high speed upgrades occurring between St. Louis and Chicago and Michigan and Chicago, not the northeast corridor which I forgot Amtrak owned. I have used Acela many many times, it is the most efficient train line in the country for traveling between metros.
The rail roads aren't really interested in high speed freight because they would rather use slower trains which they can have more trains travel on lines at the same time carrying much more freight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorge Bueno
I am guilty of being envious of Japan, Spain, France, etc.. and their cool toys (trains). After living in Europe for a few years and visiting Japan, I an envious of the efficiency of their mass transportation systems. Whether a similar system is economical or politically feasible in North America remains to be seen.
It's really not economically beneficial since outside of the US and maybe Canada most rail road companies in the rest of the world are highly subsidized and need that to survive let alone make a profit. The argument for high speed rail isn't economics because that is a losing argument. If your going to make an argument for a high speed trains like Japan has than your argument is that it's for the "public good" and not to make a buck. It's a hard sell but it's not a bad bet like trying to make an economic argument.

The President of Amtrak makes a good argument for changing how we fund infrastructure and how we think of transportation in the United States going into the future. Long video but the guy makes a lot of great points.


Last edited by cwa1984; 04-24-2015 at 06:43 PM..
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Old 04-25-2015, 10:04 AM
 
2,639 posts, read 1,993,882 times
Reputation: 1988
cwa1984 has a good point regarding auto trains.

It's the one rail project I can see getting approved, because it matches what most Americans value.

It does not require any large changes in life style, or how cities are constructed.
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Old 04-25-2015, 10:08 AM
 
2,639 posts, read 1,993,882 times
Reputation: 1988
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_curious_urbanist View Post
To the OP, the only American city that can be "European-ized" is Philadelphia. Other places simply don't have the right bones.
Interesting comment. Would you please elaborate?
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Old 04-25-2015, 10:10 AM
 
35,095 posts, read 51,230,433 times
Reputation: 62669
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorge Bueno View Post
I'm curious what others think here... Why don't North American developers and city planners every try to emulate Western European towns or cities when building new suburbs/towns/redeveloping cities centers in North America, such as with plaza, piazzas, squares, more walkable streets, etc..?

In my opinion, if I were to magically transport any half decent medium sized city from Italy, France or Spain for example into North America , it would instantly be consider one of the best cities in North America. I could choose a city most North Americans(or many W. Europeans) have never even heard of or only vaguely familiar with and it would be superior in lay out, walkability, public transportation and overall quality of life to nearly all US cities save maybe a few smaller gems and some of our major cities like Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Toronto, New York City, Montreal, etc.. I think Western European cities are by and large better than North American cities from a quality of life standpoint. Western European cities are much better for pedestrians, bikers, and mass transportation (lots of planning, history, and money/taxes there). Only a handful of North American cities are pedestrian friendly and offer decent public transportation like Chicago, New York City, and Toronto. By the way major cities in North America could use some serious makeovers as well in public transportation, more and better public spaces, improve bike friendliness, and housing development.

I'm not saying that Western European cities don't have problems, ugly ghettos, or no sprawl, many do. I lived in Italy for several years and traveled a great deal, I saw many very ugly suburbs, industrial holes, bombed out neighborhoods etc... However, most European cities and towns overall are simply superior to cities and towns in North America from quality of living and attractiveness standpoint. Part of the problem is certainly the obsession with building everything from a car centric point of view in North America. Also, North American cities not only suffer terrible planning, but are full of big box stores on the periphery. Perhaps, this is more of a political/economic issue that could be only addressed on a national level. Perhaps the United States and Canada would be better off if they made it more difficult for big box stores to operate. In my opinion they take away more from the community than they give back in taxes, wages, and to my point above they negatively impact the walkability and attractiveness of cities, especially newer sunbelt cities and small towns. They are often awful to walk in, and offer horrible public transportation. Small towns in the US have by and large seen their downtown cores completely hollowed out. 5 miles from the old dead town center there will be an ugly concentration of parking lots, fast food, and big box stores. Not only is it ugly, but you can basically get off any highway in the US and be in the same ugly parking lot and big box setting anywhere in North America. Even the best US cities suffer from too many chains and ugly box stores in my opinion.

So again, I ask... Why don't North American developers and city planners ever try to emulate Western European towns or cities when building new suburbs/towns/redeveloping cities centers in North America with plaza, piazzas, squares, more walkable streets etc..? Perhaps this would involve changes in politics and economics as well. Some things like 2000+ years of city evolution are clearly out of a city's control, but even many bombed out(literally) European cities or newer developments are typically superior to US sprawl. Any opinions provided or perspective are appreciated whether you disagree, agree or have some ideas. Also I mean no insult to anyone, I'm just curious why North American cities/towns overall are so undesirable compared to European cities/towns overall.

Maybe because this is North America not Western Europe.
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Old 04-25-2015, 01:31 PM
 
Location: Toronto
15,102 posts, read 15,873,555 times
Reputation: 5202
Quote:
Originally Posted by CSD610 View Post
Maybe because this is North America not Western Europe.
I kind of get this tinge or sort of sentiment of superiority from some regarding one vs the other - particularly on the European side in a general sense.. I don't always agree with some of the posters in here from N.A - but in this thread I think they've done a good job in demonstrating that by and large our cities/countries work and are prosperous and growing.. Just because we are different and more car centric and have developed in a more spread out fashion doesn't make our cities or our lifestyle less than or that we have some strong inward desire to develop into a sort of European style 'perfection' lol.. I enjoy visiting Europe and I do think many areas are vibrant and urban - but I like living on this side of the pond thanks very much!
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Old 04-30-2015, 11:13 AM
 
62 posts, read 122,348 times
Reputation: 89
@ CSD610 "Maybe because this is North America not Western Europe."

I think you misunderstood the question. Are you suggesting North Americans are incapable of improving their cities and suburbs?

Are you suggesting you don't believe N. American cities need improvement and thus have nothing to learn from Western European cities?
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Old 04-30-2015, 11:20 AM
 
2,339 posts, read 2,931,302 times
Reputation: 2349
Quote:
Originally Posted by fusion2 View Post
I kind of get this tinge or sort of sentiment of superiority from some regarding one vs the other - particularly on the European side in a general sense.. I don't always agree with some of the posters in here from N.A - but in this thread I think they've done a good job in demonstrating that by and large our cities/countries work and are prosperous and growing.. Just because we are different and more car centric and have developed in a more spread out fashion doesn't make our cities or our lifestyle less than or that we have some strong inward desire to develop into a sort of European style 'perfection' lol.. I enjoy visiting Europe and I do think many areas are vibrant and urban - but I like living on this side of the pond thanks very much!
Europe is definitively a clear winner here: liveable, desirable cities instead of urban decay, sprawl, car culture, and lifeless suburbs with nothing to do. The most European looking cities like San Francisco also consistently get rated as having the best quality of life.
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Old 04-30-2015, 12:04 PM
 
Location: M I N N E S O T A
14,773 posts, read 21,494,000 times
Reputation: 9263
Quote:
Originally Posted by drro View Post
Europe is definitively a clear winner here: liveable, desirable cities instead of urban decay, sprawl, car culture, and lifeless suburbs with nothing to do. The most European looking cities like San Francisco also consistently get rated as having the best quality of life.
Mhm you guys are so amazing
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Old 04-30-2015, 12:10 PM
 
Location: M I N N E S O T A
14,773 posts, read 21,494,000 times
Reputation: 9263
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorge Bueno View Post
@ CSD610 "Maybe because this is North America not Western Europe."

I think you misunderstood the question. Are you suggesting North Americans are incapable of improving their cities and suburbs?

Are you suggesting you don't believe N. American cities need improvement and thus have nothing to learn from Western European cities?
It would make more sense for N. American cities who want to look more urban to look toward urban N. American cities and not Western European cities... Why look all the way to a Western European cities that have complete different layouts and styles? just look at Chicago, Toronto, Seattle, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco for inspiration.
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