There’s word today of a new high-speed urban rail line opening in Johannesburg, South Africa, just in time for the World Cup. The reporting I’m reading indicates the line is competitive on price and speed with other options, but I’m certainly troubled by word that it won’t really benefit poorer areas. Frankly, transit is often most needed in those areas, since the poor have fewer transportation options. I suspect land use density plays some role, and it appears the poor may live more on the outskirts, but nevertheless, one hopes South Africa will extend their transit investment further out.
I titled this entry as I did because I wondered how frequently we see new transit projects unveiled around big sports or other events, like the Olympics or a big convention/expo. I looked up some of the recent Olympic host cities for a glimpse.
Los Angeles unveiled its urban rail nine years after the ’84 Olympics.
In Calgary, Canada, according to their website, “Spurred by an Alberta oil boom and The City of Calgary having been awarded the 1988 Olympic Winter games, construction of Calgary’s Light Rail Transit system began in 1978.”
Seoul appeared to have had a robust system before their Olympics.
Not sure about Albertville, France, or Lillehammer, Norway. Barcelona evidently revamped part of its system for the 1992 Olympics. Atlanta opened a new segment around its Olympics. So did Sydney and Beijing. In Salt Lake City, “After Salt Lake City won the bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics in 1995, UTA leveraged the city’s host status to accelerate the process of obtaining funding through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).” Athens also seemed to extend its system by its Olympics.
Now, it would take longer time than I have to evaluate how ridership ebbed and flowed during and after the Olympics, but my preliminary research suggests train investments made in time for Olympic Games don’t end up sitting idle.