A Brief History Of Why U.S. Metros Do Not Through-Route

12:18:18 WST map studied

To repeat the key fact, only two U.S. terminals have been through-routed; despite this being the global standard. Philadelphia did both in 1983 and it resulted from municipal moxie. While the through-route helped redevelop the downtown corridor, the system did not attract significantly more riders nor redevelop sub-centers as through-networks are supposed to do. This lack of coordination between transportation investments and land uses results from weak metropolitan governance.

All recent efforts to through-route the six terminals (below) have fallen endlessly off schedule, ridiculously off-budget and are hopelessly under-funded; particularly given the rapid retreat of federal funds. These six terminals center the systems for 84% of Americans who commute by rail. Since they are doing the right thing, these taxpayers deserve better.

This capsule below of failed conversions ranks each by size. The right column notes “Primary Obstacles To Progress” or POPs (orange color code), Secondary Obstacles or SOPs (yellow) and Tertiary or TOPs (white).

POPs and SOPs result from ineffective State Politics in the five largest of the six terminals. Two POPs (NY Penn and DC Union Station) are really blocked by Inter-State Politics . A variant of poor State Politics — called City-Suburb Tensions — traps Chicago’s and Boston’s terminals in what were 19th Century designs.

The obvious point: states need to rebalance transportation authority by investing as much as is necessary so a metropolitan body can bring the region into a sustainable, 21st Century design.

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