Monday, February 07, 2011

SIngapore Envy

Tom Friedman rhapsodizes too much about Singapore.  While it is hardly the least free society in the world, the People's Action Party for all intents and purposes has a political monopoly.  Singapore's GINI coefficient is higher than the United States for income, as is its ratio 90th percentile to 10th percentile income.

Nevertheless, every time I pass through the city-state (I just did for the third time), I am awed by its transportation infrastructure: beautifully landscaped expressways, congestion pricing for automobiles, and well-operated bus and trail transit.  Transit is very clean, fast and efficient, and runs frequently.  The trains are often crowded but somehow not too crowded.  Changi airport is a public works project of the sort that once filled American's with pride--it is to airports what Hoover Dam is to, well, dams.  Changi is also profitable.

So when I come home to Los Angeles, I find LAX to be a little embarrassing.  When I use transit from the airport, the Flyaway Bus, I find it to be unreliable and less than spotless.  The process of buying a ticket (at the end of the journey) is cumbersome.  It would be one thing if LA were unusually bad about such things for US cities, but it is not.  The fact that New York is having a hard time getting a second rail tunnel built under the Hudson also reflects America's seeming inability to provide necessary public works.

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