8/30/2010

Rail vs Bus transit planning, infrastructure design & emotional fads

humantransit.org - The beginning of this article isn't particularly new in any way, but a decent refresh of the contrasts in abilities of bus vs rail technologies for urban transit. The much more interesting part is towards the end - Jarrett talks about the historic legacy of infrastructure geometries that were influenced by the emotional climates of their time - this seems to be a defining feature of many (all?) major infrastructure trends throughout generations. The (difficult) key is differentiating emotional fads from important paradigm shifts when making these sorts of planing decisions.
Look around your city and I bet you can find some long-term infrastructure that's not at all what you would build today, and that presents obvious practical problems for the life of the city now. Those facilities were designed to meet the emotional needs of a past generation, and some of these were built in spite of obvious mathematical or geometric absurdity because of the passion of the moment.
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Things were built a certain way to meet the emotional needs of a moment in history. Today, the emotions have changed, but the geometry hasn't. So we're still stuck with the geometric consequences of those emotional decisions.

(also? whoadamn that's an amazing comment thread he's got going there...)

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