Thursday, September 10, 2009

Checking in on Maglev

Even I am confused.  Last month the news was that the state added Maglev to what it wanted out of stimulus high speed rail dedicated funding.  I have not been following it that closely, but I thought it didn't actually make it into the final ask for the high speed rail funding.  The latest news is that the local Maglev project is getting $28 million to continue working on the idea.  That's like life support money.  So maybe it's not on the list for big $$, but not completely cut off. 

Got me thinking though about what is up with MaglevPA, the folks who have been working on getting maglev in Western PA since forever.  Literally decades at this point.

There is a little issue that surfaced last year.  The company building the technology that MaglevPA had been working toward implementing here, a company called TransRapid in Germany, had announced it was dissolving itself. I know from conversations that some people thought Transrapid had already ceased operations. Turns out not to be quite true.  The government in Germany jumped in and has been trying to keep Transrapid alive. I checked in and found this recent blurb in the German press on the ongoing travails of Transrapid. So it's still there, for now.

Whether Transrapid is still part of the plan for MaglevPA I have no idea.  I was looking at their web page to see if there had been some change, but much of the content is dated.  People have forgotten there was a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) produced on the potential maglev to be built here.  From the news accounts PAT just paid $70K for a consultant to actually finish the EIS. 

and don't forget, there have been two other maglev projects seriously discussed around here in recent years.  A low speed maglev just for within the city and a maglev out at the California University of PA.  I say there has to be some stimulus money for my favorite unbuilt transit system in the city.


Blogger joe said...

I'm all for that gondola idea - and maybe that's what's needed between the Strip and the Hill....

Friday, September 11, 2009 7:47:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

I still prefer your 'bike escalator' (or whatever it was called). I'm guessing you could run a couple of those up Murray from Forward to Forbes for less than the cost of printing the envirnomental impact reports for a PGH to PHL maglev.

Friday, September 11, 2009 9:52:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew Moore said...

I don't understand what large sums of money actually ammonunt to. When I read this story in the Post-Gazette, I thought 24M seemed like a lot just for planning. You call it life support--so does that mean the sum is actually not that much in the scheme of what it takes to do these projects?

Thanks for your insights!

Friday, September 11, 2009 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Bram Reichbaum said...

We got $350,000 from the state to make a comprehensive plan for the City of Pittsburgh -- I think that had to be matched from another source. I also was of the knee-jerk impression that $28M was a significant sum. More importantly I was heartened that the Maglev we are looking at is PGH-PHI and not PGH-PGH Airport.

Friday, September 11, 2009 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I'm not sure the city comp plan and it's costs are much of an analogy.. County comp plan had costs in the millions in itself and these are just plans.

the Pittsburgh maglev piece alone would be something on the order of several billion dollars. The cost of anything beyond that are a bit hard to get your hands around but add a zero. But for those $ amounts I think $28 million (<1%?)is mostly to keep MaglevPA alive a bit longer. They have other things going on beyond the maglev itself I thought.. or they did. But the bottom line... big rail is more expensive than people think in itself. add in the cost of 'new' technology and you have a pretty big price tag no matter.

Friday, September 11, 2009 11:46:00 AM  

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