November 13, 2007

Texas Rail

I've often wondered how well a high speed train system would work in Texas. Trains in Europe are reaching speeds of 200 - 357 miles per hour.

These speeds make previously dreaded road trips or flights unnecessary. For example:

Houston to Dallas by:
- Car = 4 hours
- Train at 200 mph = 1 hour 12 minutes
- Train at 357 mph = 40 minutes

San Antonio to Dallas by:
- Car = 4 hours 30 minutes
- Train at 200 mph = 1 hour 22 minutes
- Train at 357 mph = 46 minutes

Even shorter times separate cities like Austin from the rest of the state's major business districts (due to its central location). This would not only make business travel easier, but would also enable residents of one city to easily work in another. I know many people who would love to live in a different Texas city, but are constrained due to their employment situation.

One caveat for any development plans, however, involves the sprawl of a city like Houston. Personal transportation after a train ride is a necessity. This isn't Europe and walking or even biking are not a feasible options. Fortunately, MIT engineers are making progress on an innovative solution.

Meant to work more like a car sharing service than that of a personal vehicle, MIT hopes to change the way that we think about personal transportation. Stacks of vehicles could be placed throughout the city to create a small network that is linked to the existing mass transportation systems within the city. When a person comes gets off a bus or train, they can just hop into one of these vehicles and go about their business. They can either drop it off at the vehicle stack at their destination, if there happens to be one, or returned to their original stack, where the vehicle will be recharged and wait for the next person to take it.

via Inhabitat

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