US infrastructure appears 3rd world compared to elsewhere
Original post made by World Traveler, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on May 14, 2008
From badly designed public transport, to poor signs, and poor roads, the US looks much more like an urban poor city rather than one of the so called richest in the world.
We have no overall transit authority in the Bay Area, we cannot get off one train, onto one bus and then another on one ticket, and no one place to get information how to even use them for one journey. We have to wait at bus stops with no idea of how long it will be before the next bus arrives or even which bus will come or where it will take us. We have no way of knowing if the bus is late or if it arrived early and we missed it. We have no idea when a bus comes where it is going (unless we happen to know that its destination is our destination) and if we get off, where we should go to find the bus for our return journey.
We have buttons to stop the traffic for pedestrians, but we still have to watch for cars turning right on green even when the pedestrians have the crossing signal. Traffic lights for pedestrians should stop all traffic in all directions. Bike lanes are intermittent and usually fade out at intersections and often disappear altogether without any warning.
Our roads are in poor repair and signs to anywhere other than hospitals or freeways are almost non-existent. Traffic delays ahead are never warned in advance and as for finding a spot in a crowded parking lot, you might as well be looking for a needle in a haystack as there are no methods of knowing where the empty bays are situated and even less help to find your car when you have finished apart from the remote on your own car and key fob.
Other major cities do seem so much more advanced and it is only by seeing innovations abroad that we can actually see how far behind we are.
Here we constantly hear the argument of how expensive some of these things are, but if that is the case how come so many other countries with smaller populations are able to do so much better. One can argue that their taxes are higher, but really I think it is much more than that. They are prepared to use the money that they do have to make the lives of their own citizens better rather than wasting the money on bureaucracy and image making. I believe our own mayor has just come back from a fact finding tour in China, but surely the money that cost would have been much better spent on improving Palo Alto for its residents by improving the library or putting safety crossing lights outside our schools.
Public office is just that, serving the public, not serving one's own political career or justifying a busman's holiday of sorts on international travel. Here in Palo Alto we should really watch how the money our City gleans is spent. And, whether we need to tighten the purse strings on the Children's Theatre, the Mayor's travel abroad, or the naming of a plaza to honor someone who has nothing to do with Palo Alto and putting a plaque to prove it, we should demand better infrastructure as a top priority.