How Taiwan’s High-Speed Trains Expose California’s Lack of Nerve

While the Golden State Made Excuses, the Poorer, Smaller Island Country Transformed Its National Transit System

When it comes to fast trains, a California consensus has hardened: High-speed rail is beyond our capabilities.

We may be the world’s high-tech capital, but we say that high-speed rail is just too technically challenging for us. We may have one of the planet’s richest economies, but nevertheless maintain that high-speed rail is too expensive. We are a giant, sprawling state of 40 million people, but believe we’re too small to construct even one high-speed rail line.

If we’re right about our own powerlessness to deliver high-speed rail, then how do …

What Riding Trains Taught Me About Americans

Rail Travel Induces a Reverie and Intimacy Among Its Diverse Passengers

Amos, a one-legged Amish man, was having trouble with his new prosthesis. He left the leg in his sleeping compartment and came to the diner on crutches—a hazardous ambulation …

All Aboard, Bay Area, on Your Fast Train to Wasco

This Kern County Town, a Conduit for High-Speed Rail, Has a Lot to Offer

Dear Bay Area,

Welcome to Wasco.

You may never have heard of this small city of 25,000 in the San Joaquin Valley. You probably can’t pronounce it (it’s WAW-skoh).

But you and …

Train From New Mexico

In the Lamy train station, passengers lean stiff
hips against wooden benches. Hear that old creak.
An attendant heaves my green trunk onto an antique
scale made of wood and …

Whatever Happened to the Little Red Caboose?

Manufacturing of the Iconic Train Car Stopped in 1981, But They Still Hold a Special Place in American Pop Culture

Americans have many icons. But those dealing with the exploration and expansion of the United States seem especially beloved: stagecoaches, steamboats, trains—and the railroad caboose. From the mid-19th century through …

When You Ride the Bus, You Ride With Big Data

Will Public Transit Apps Create Customers or Citizens?

When I first arrived in San Francisco in 1988, I often took a bus called the 22 Fillmore, which ran from Potrero Hill, made a right turn near the Castro, …