Monday, May 10, 2004

Social Engineering is Hard Work

The ten-year anniversary of the opening of the Chunnel, reports Christian Wolmar, goes unheralded because it has been an underperforming disappointment.

Let's see. People cannot drive through it (they can "transfer" cars onto and off shuttles and they can ride the Eurostar train) and airline deregulation in Europe has dropped cross-Channel airfares. My London-Berlin flight last year cost $25 (and $35 to have the ticket express mailed to LA). And this is Europe where gasoline prices are much higher than anything Americans have seen.

What do planners in Los Angeles want to build? High-speed rail to remote airports and high-speed rail to compete with north-south intrastate air and auto travel.

Just like the Chunnel, the price tags quoted are in the billions, almost all local planners and politicians are on-board. The proposals are seen as good ways to "get people out of their cars."