Tuesday, February 16, 2010

48 / Connectivity #2

Internet "connectivity" is one thing and "real" connectivity is another. In Europe and other parts of the world, people are able to connect themselves to other people and other places by using buses and trains.

In the United States, that's the exception, not the rule. In the United States, people are connected by automobiles.

The bus system in Spain is impressive (failed internet connections aside). Whether in Madrid or in the smaller Spanish cities, the bus stations are centers of life, with hundreds of buses leaving Madrid each hour, for destinations everywhere. They are almost always to the minute on time, and the apparent confusion along the platforms, as thousands of people come and go, belies the system's incredible operational effectiveness.

The same for trains.

I've been taking high speed trains in Japan, Britain, France, and soon will take my second trip on the Spanish AVE system. I will be leaving Malaga on Friday at 11:05 in the morning (and my prediction, based on my experience, is that I will be leaving Malaga at exactly that time). Arrival in Madrid (Atocha) will be at 1:40 in the afternoon. Therefore, a trip from the southern coast of Spain to the capital city, 344 miles to the north, will take two and three-quarters hours. I think I'm right in calculating that as an effective 125 mile per hour trip for the entire journey.

It would be nice if California had a train system like that - if we could "do it right." I'm following the High Speed Rail efforts in California closely, and I don't have much confidence, unfortunately. But that's another story.

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