Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Vice President For SUPERTRAIN

Ezra writes:

Meanwhile, Joe Biden didn't come to support rail through an abstract interest in urban policy. Rather, his first wife died young, and he needed to be around for his kids, and so he rode the train a lot. President-elect Obama, similarly, has lived in Chicago and New York, and so has some visceral experience with the utility of pubic transit. He's not shown any particular interest or leadership on the issue, but his lived experience suggests he'll have the urbaner's traditional sympathy for transit. That wasn't true for Clinton, in Arkansas, or Gore, in Tennessee, or Bush, in Texas, or Cheney, in Wyoming. And though it would be odd if transit policy was decisively transformed because the Senator from Delaware took the train a lot, and the president had lived in Chicago and so was favorably disposed towards trains, and these feelings intersected with a moment of tremendous infrastructure and acute concern over vehicle emissions, weirder things have happened.

Aside from the fact that this may lead to more administration support for rail projects, it'll hopefully lead to support for smarter rail projects. So many people in this country have literally zero experience with mass transit, and some of these people are in positions of authority deciding to build systems. Even if they support them, the lack of personal experience often means they don't even quite understand what they support, or what a quality system would look like. They can't conceive of a truly awesome SUPERTRAIN because they don't really know what it'd be like.

I recognize Joe Biden won't be personally overseeing all the transit projects in the country, but to the extent that he's involved at all in this stuff hopefully some of his personal experience rubs off a bit on the people who are/will be.