Major infrastructure projects like passenger rail are slow in the US for a number of reasons. Local and regional governments have relatively more power in land-use decisions than elsewhere, says Elkind, making big projects subject to the politics of city councils and county boards.
Projects that push ahead despite bureaucratic and legal hurdles are often later derailed thanks to cost overruns and minimal support from federal funding. Often, they run over budget simply due to a lack of institutional knowledge, says Jonathan English, transport director of the chamber of commerce and advocacy group Toronto Region Board of Trade, who has researched public transport development in the US, Canada and in Europe. In places where public transit development is common, there are experts who can work efficiently and avoid going over-budget. But in the US, planners may have to negotiate many unforeseen challenges.
Take the California High Speed Rail system, for example. After more than a decade of delays, the project is low on funds, and construction is currently limited to a 119-mile (190km) segment in the Central Valley. The goal of the project is eventually to connect San Francisco to Los Angeles. "The [funding] offer from the federal government for highways is much more generous than for rail," says Elkind, adding that California has mostly had to finance the project on its own with bond money and funds from its carbon trading program.
Transport officials at Oregon Metro – a regional planning agency covering Portland and portions of surrounding counties – express similar frustrations. While the agency has managed to forge ahead with various light rail, bus and bike path improvements since the 1990s, securing funds has been challenging. "We receive a very small amount of flexible [federal] funds that can be used for active transportation and transit projects," says Margi Bradway, deputy director of planning at Oregon Metro. "They really pale in comparison to the overall funding available."
Source : https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20211019-climate-change-how-the-us-can-drive-less325