SHANGHAI — This November, Californians will decide whether to approve funds to build a high-speed rail service connecting the state. Projected to travel in excess of 200 miles-per-hour, the California High-Speed Rail Authority promises that the trip from
That trip, of course, is still at least ten years away. But if one wanted a short glimpse of the future experience of high-speed commuting, perhaps
The Maglev connects
As a matter of efficiency, the Maglev is well-integrated with the city’s existing subway system. Passengers can connect to the line from any subway station in the city, and upon arrival at the Maglev transfer station clear signs are posted everywhere showing how to get to the airport.
Still, quite a few Chinese are indeed excited about the Maglev train. Whenever it pulls to a stop, domestic Chinese tourists can often be seen fighting over the perfect spot for pictures in front of the sleek train. They are awed by what the Maglev train represents: a forward-looking
But to others, the Maglev line, formally called the Magnetic Levitation Demonstration Line, seems to be nothing more than what its name suggests—a demonstration, and a wasteful one at best, offering nothing more than a joy ride for visiting tourists.
Nevertheless, shortly after the Maglev started service, the government announced that it planned to link the rail line to the city’s other airport, Hongqiao. But many residents who lived along the projected route resisted that move. They worried that the line could negatively affect their home values, and environmental concerns—such as noise pollution and the fear of radiation dangers—surfaced as well. As a result, expansion plans have been put on hold.
Despite the domestic concerns, the Shanghai Maglev does offer transportation planners everywhere a possible model of efficient and environmentally-friendly (as compared to more cars) commute. Like the world fairs of yesteryears that showcased the promise of planes and people movers, the Maglev line provides a brief look into a future when trains can compete with planes, and when suburban living can be sustainable. And