On Mon, 8 Nov 2004, John Birrenbach wrote:

"...you have to do it smartly kinda like Chicago
does. Pick a point (Union Station) and have all your
communter trains from the burbs converge there ..." 

A correction. Chicago's commuter trains do not all
converge in a single location. In addition to Union
Station, Chicago also has suburban commuter lines
terminating at LaSalle Street station and Randolph
Street station. This doesn't negate John's point, of
course. It's important to have the various lines
intersecting so that the entire system is useable
without having to go from one mode to another (i.e.,
it shouldn't be necessary to take a bus to get from
one rail line to another). However, I'm not so sure
that it's necessary to have the lines converging at a
single point. It seems that would require an in and
out ride anytime one's origin and destination were on
different lines. There are probably other
configurations with distributed intersections that
would work better (NYC's or Paris' subways e.g.)

More seriously, John's argument that the Twin Cities
is designed around the automobile may, at this point
in time, be true (It wasn't always so). However, that
doesn't mean that that design is appropriate for the
future. Can an almost exclusively car-based system
accomodate a million more people in the region without
causing immense problems. Remember, miles driven don't
increase in a linear fashion as a region grows in
size. They increase geometrically. We simply can't
depend on roads and freeways to deal with the traffic
that will be present in the not allthat distant
future. I happen to believe that a combination of
heavy rail, light rail (including streetcars) and
buses has to be added to the road system to keep us
mobile. It will be expensive to build but the costs of
not building this system will be large as well.

And let's recognize too that we can learn much from
looking at how other regions have dealt with the
problem, both here in North America and abroad. We can
emulate solutions that work and avoid the mistakes
that are evident in some places (Atlanta's freeways,

Charlie Swope
Ward 1 

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