In Omnia Levitate
It always amazes me the dichotomy of how much media attention is paid to things on the front end when there are press releases hyping potential no matter how unlikely with the subdued coverage at best when things finally pass into the afterlife of strange ideas. No better example is the history of Maglev in Pittsburgh which has been a sop of money and news coverage for decades. Consider that support for local Maglev continued even after, it may have even accelerated, after Transrapid, the German company that was the focus of the local effort itself decided to give up the ghost. h/t to Jason T. for catching that nugget.. I myself tried to finagle a ride on the test track Transrapid had set up for years outside of Hanover.. Luckly I never pulled it off since not long afterwards an accident on the site resulted in 23 deaths. You think someone might have gotten a clue long before now that this might not be the most promising technology? But no.. in fact the dollars coming in just got bigger?
First question that really needs someone to dig into is how did Maglev continue to generate revenue in multi-million dollar chunks. Was there any real strategic plan here? Any realistic assessment of what was ever really possible? Then you have to ask yourself what did all that money produce in the end. The bankruptcy filing will answer that last question, but how it got money over and over again is worth digging into by someone.
and I know some folks hate Tom Murphy, but he remains to this day the only local politician who ever said no to any of the multiple maglev projects that have been floated over the years. It was a position that did not earn him any political support, but actually generated for him a fair amount of grief in subsequent years in ways too long to get into here... but the short versionis that like all things Pittsburgh everything is connected. There has been state money along the way, but it has been federal money that had really been feeding Maglev for years. Support for Maglev projexts may have defined the very term earmark more than most any other project.. Is it the biggest local federal earmark over the years?? I wonder.
The costs go beyond the sheer dollars the project took in and spent along the way. Realize that any large public transit project like this had to involve the Port Authority.. and I am pretty sure the Port Authority folks had no love for any of this over the years. Yet the same political processes that generated the money for maglev likely forced the Port Authority to devote preciously limited time and effort to support the effort along the way.. Think how it was just a couple years ago it seems that the Port Authority sponsored Environmental Impact Statement was soliciting comment from the public.
So there are a lot of lessons to be learned from the whole saga that is Maglev in Pennsylvania... but it won't be a story really ever told as it just fades away. Everyone (or virtually everyone) just went along with the idea with few critical questions ever raised. Even when some doubted, the money kept coming.