It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s dedicated ROW!

Over at, I have a post about everyone’s favorite fictional urban transit revolution, the urban gondola (or aerial tram).

The case history on US urban gondolas doesn’t look good cost-wise, but the travel time savings look great.  The Portland Aerial Tram, which could also be called an urban gondola (if you consider low-slung Portland urban), cost $57 million, or roughly $90 million per mile, if I calculated the hypotenuse correctly.  The Portland Aerial Tram travels at a top speed of 22 mph, which could make an Uptown Transit Station to Hennepin-8th Street trip in 6.5 minutes.  That’s about one-third the posted travel time for the #6 bus, and less than half the travel time of the limited-stop #12.  6 minutes is even less than half the travel time identified by Metro Transit for an upgraded arterial BRT on Hennepin.

Midwest HSR/Stimulus run-down

I’ve been collecting articles since mid-February, so this post is way overdue.

Remember when Congress approved $680 million a year for high speed rail projects?  Well that’s peanuts now, with the stimulus bringing in $8 billion.  Back then, Oberstar said Chicago to the Twin Cities could happen in 5 years.

As usual, NYT has the best rundown of the details.  Autopia also has a little more analysis.  The Boston Globe talks to some people who say that HSR will be tough to get started in the US because of our old friends low gas prices (love of foreign oil?) and low population density (also wide open spaces and a lack of historic government support).  Governor Jim Doyle went to Spain, rode their ultra-fast trains and declared a Chicago-Minnesota route possible “within 5 to 10 years“.  Finally, feeling left out, the Hennepin County Board last week approved a resolution asking that proposals be developed to include Minneapolis in high-speed plans (current plans have the line ending at Saint Paul’s soon-to-be-renovated Union Depot).

If $680 million = Chicago-TC HSR route in 5 years, shouldn’t $8 billion = Chicago-TC route in 5 months?