Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
... and if you're not stopping in every podunk suburb, those two hours one-way commute need to cover the time to get to the station as well as the time on the train.

Under a fully integrated rail solution, with park-and-ride space for electric vehicles (and as a back-of-the-envelope guesstimate), you'll have 100 km between each HSR stop, 10-15 km between each 100 kph cruise speed commuter rail stop, 1-3 km between each light rail/rapid rail stop and the rest covered by bikes, foot traffic, buses and/or electric cars.

That gives you a maximum distance for a two-hour commute of ~400 km, but that's if you live right on top of the HSR station. You want people to stack together on top of the HSR station - that's precisely the opposite of sprawl.

If you sprawl people out to a moderate distance of, say, 30 km from the HSR station (which really isn't that sprawling - that's roughly European density), you'll be looking at more like 250-300 km. And that's assuming you've got ship-shape infrastructure. In the real world, you'll be lucky to pull 200. Genuine sprawl? Fuggetaboutit, the economics are gonna kill a sprawl-catering HSR line stone cold dead before it even leaves the drawing board.

So HSR won't give you sprawl in the middle of the boonies because it connects NYC with the boonies - because it won't connect NYC with the boonies. It'll connect NYC with other major population centres. Now, this may cause those population centres to grow, and be able to sustain sprawl of their own... but that's a very different story, and one that would not be an unmitigated disaster.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jun 1st, 2011 at 05:35:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I completely agree, ideally what you described is how a multiple service rail corridor should be designed. And maybe they'll actually get built that way. But even if they do, what's going to stop the area around major stations from sprawling beyond what you call a moderate distance? Rail absolutely needs density (and feeder services) but I can't see how what is now rural, open land won't be turned into low density housing without some sort of major change in how we manage the land. The two have to go hand in hand for the economics to be truly realized.
by Jace on Wed Jun 1st, 2011 at 08:10:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you have major economic development around the HSR stations, then - under the current US residential housing system - you will get sprawl.

But that has to do with the fact that you will get economic growth in places that are not New York, not with HSR per se. If, instead, you placed a shipyard in those communities, you'd also get sprawl.

It's hard to see how driving for more than 30 km to an HSR station (that's going to take somewhere on the order of 3/4 of an hour, more the further you go out) and then switching to the HSR line can cause sprawl to develop further than about 250 km outside the major city you're connecting (and that's if your roads are in good condition - if they're not, you can shave a couple of dozen km off that estimate).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 2nd, 2011 at 12:11:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And you have to look at net impact. Being 10km from a town center to catch an HSR to nearby major employment center is not versus not living anywhere. under the premise, its versus living in the immediate outer-suburban belt around that major employment center, since the assumption is that local development rules encourage sprawl.

Assuming that the HSR authority is trying, picking station locations that net promote clustering as opposed to sprawl is reasonably straightforward. And if they aren't trying, then over-riding local planning authority and handing it to them instead does no good anyway.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jun 2nd, 2011 at 01:00:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First, why would providing an Express HSR station ~ at a specific place, with land in its vicinity gaining additional value due to ease of getting to an Express HSR station ~ tend to increase sprawl relative to providing that same intercity transport capacity via roadworks? I do not follow the argument.

If the state or federal funding sources for an Express HSR corridor have the will and capacity to fight sprawl, all they need do is to not pick station locations that offer no infill development opportunities and do not integrate well with local transport networks.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jun 2nd, 2011 at 12:50:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right, adding any similar increase in door to door travel time, no matter the mode, will tend to increase sprawl in a similar manner. As HSR is currently that much faster than other surface modes, it offers at least the possibility for significantly greater development/sprawl along a longer route (going back to the two hour travel time 'limit').

If the state or federal funding sources for an Express HSR corridor have the will and capacity to fight sprawl, all they need do is to not pick station locations that offer no infill development opportunities and do not integrate well with local transport networks.

You're kind of shooting yourself in the foot then, no? Trains need volume. You either have high density very close to the stations or you have an extensive feeder network, be it car, bus, tram, regional rail, etc. We don't have density and as it stands now, we don't have much ability to create density through land use restrictions. Instead we have to rely on feeder networks to bring in traffic. Outside of a few major urban areas, the only feeders we have are cars. That's the rub.

by Jace on Thu Jun 2nd, 2011 at 02:33:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it offers at least the possibility for significantly greater development/sprawl along a longer route

No, not "along" a route. Unlike the alternative investment in Expressways, its only at distinct points along the route, with each point widely spaced.

Which by contrast to the status quo means of providing the same intercity transport capacity, is more clustered development, and therefore less sprawl development.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jun 2nd, 2011 at 03:17:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looking at 19th century Sweden, building railroad clusters the population already living in an area closer to the train station. Villages that got a train station grew at the expense of their neighbours.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jun 2nd, 2011 at 03:51:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right, adding any similar increase in door to door travel time, no matter the mode, will tend to increase sprawl in a similar manner.
... no, of course not, not unless it actually increases sprawl.

It would be absurd to define sprawl simply in terms of commute travel time: that ignores where people go to get their groceries and other shopping, where kids go to school, where people go for their leisure. If the environs of the HSR work more like a town and less like sprawl suburbia, then development for people living in those environs will be less sprawling than development to cater to people living in sprawling outer suburbs.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jun 2nd, 2011 at 03:23:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the environs of the HSR work more like a town and less like sprawl suburbia, then development for people living in those environs will be less sprawling than development to cater to people living in sprawling outer suburbs.

How will happen without changes in how we regulate land development?

by Jace on Thu Jun 2nd, 2011 at 04:47:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you have sprawl-level densities around the HSR station, there is a sporting chance that someone will get pissed off that the existing residents are hogging all the valuable space right on top of the station with their low-density development.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 2nd, 2011 at 04:49:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... it is a system of direct, cross and hidden subsidies for sprawl development. You are concluding that the HSR will have sprawl impact by first assuming away the fact that spending on intercity road transport is one of those cross subsidies, and second assuming that the land use planning landscape under local control is a single, uniform mass with no local variation.

Spending on Express HSR intercity transport capacity instead of road intercity capacity is a dramatic change in the landscape. With the investment in roadworks, roads in the outer suburban area form dendritic networks draining toward the exit in the direction of the dominant commute. With investment in HSR, transport is focused on a single point with a 50km to 100km radius, and unlike land in sprawl suburbia, where land value is primarily created by zoning fiat, land value rises as you get closer to the station, on the natural square power relationship that there is only a quarter as much land that is half the distance to the station.

Now, you may believe that US local political systems are immune to the interests of property developers, but I do not. I believe that with a strong commercial interest by property developers in being permitted to exploit the value of proximity by being permitted to engage in mixed use and infill residential development, they will by hood or by crook get the station sited where they can get permission to engage in infill development.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jun 2nd, 2011 at 10:58:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now, you may believe that US local political systems are immune to the interests of property developers,

This couldn't be further from the truth! I've seen the process at work too many times. Property developers exploit local level politicians because remember they're the only ones involved in development. There is no national level involvement, states at best set some policy as in pro-growth or anti-growth. All of the real decisions on development are made locally. Rural states and localities are almost universally pro-growth because of the potential growth in tax revenues and political influence. Property owners know this, the local politicians know this. The temptations are huge, despite known longer term impacts of sprawl. That states have to look at buying land to take it out of commission to limit development is an illustration of just how screwed up the process is.

by Jace on Fri Jun 3rd, 2011 at 07:54:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... rules will stay the same after changing the rewards so that infill development around the station is more lucrative?

I'd expect that the rules will bend to allow developers to take advantage of those opportunities.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jun 3rd, 2011 at 02:05:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Display: