Paris Built 68 New Transit Stations + 120 miles of Rail in 7 Years…for Half The Price Of American Transit

Paris Built 68 New Transit Stations + 120 miles of Rail in 7 Years...for Half The Price Of American Transit 1

But change is coming – and on a huge scale. The venerable Paris Métro is about to get its most significant upgrade in decades with the arrival of the Grand Paris Express, a new 200-kilometer (120-mile) system that will add four lines and 68 brand-new stations to the network.

These will mainly be connecting suburban towns without passing through the densely populated city of Paris – adding outer rings to an underground map of Paris that has, until now, been made of 14 lines that only reach out from the center like spokes.

It’s been an epic undertaking. Construction of the lines, which began in 2016, is the biggest civilian infrastructure project in Europe, according to the French government. Inevitably, given the scale, it has been hit by delays.

And there’s this on costs…

All of this work has come at a hefty price tag. A total of €35.6 billion has been earmarked for the Grand Paris Express development, including a provision of €7 billion for risks and contingencies, putting the full cost at roughly €42 billion ($54.34 billion). To put that figure in perspective, the Seattle Metro region’s Sound Transit 3 expansion, which at 62 miles is arguably the largest transit system expansion in the United States, was estimated to cost $53.8 billion when it was approved by voters in 2016. Since then costs have increased, resulting in a hybrid realignment plan being passed in the summer of 2021 aimed at creating cost savings.

Meanwhile, in Atlanta, this is more typical. A bike lane and crosswalks are proposed for a two mile section of existing city street. And it takes 9 years and $30+ million dollars.

Paris Built 68 New Transit Stations + 120 miles of Rail in 7 Years...for Half The Price Of American Transit 2

I know I’m not the only one in America complaining about public works and infrastructure. At this point, it’s like talking about the weather.

What I want to emphasize are the true lack of excuses.

Because, I think over the past 20 years, I’ve gotten used to hearing about China building stuff at a record pace for a lot less money. I’ve assumed that it’s like a dictator thing – maybe it can’t be done in a messy, developed democracy.

But France did it!*

*and here I will engage in some gross oversimplification and stereotyping to make a point.

NIMBYism Is Not To Blame

Not to stereotype (well, a little), but the French really know how to protest. They go nuts over like working 5 more hours per week or paying a few more euros for gas. I mean, they banned skyscrapers in downtown Paris to preserve the look and feel of all the quaint Left Bank coffee shops.

Regulations Are Not To Blame

The US has regulations? Compared to France? lol

Workers Are Not To Blame

French workers go for 35 hours a week. This is not an excuse.

City Density & Cultural Value Is Not To Blame

Paris is thousands of years old with more archaeology in a square mile than most American states have in them.

Capital Is Not To Blame

The US is swimming in wealth. There is so. much. money. Also, the French did all this for like half the cost.

Culture & Ethics Are Not To Blame

Google “france business scandal” – the French are just as corrupt and self-serving as Americans.

America As a Country Is Not To Blame

Other countries, like Germany and England, also struggle to build stuff. And America can build stuff insanely fast when we collectively want to.

And that seems to be the main takeaway. A project needs to have a clear, singular objective with no strings attached. A project needs to have clear, unambiguous political support beyond a single leader – it has to be a large, unified coalition that does not get distracted.

Sounds like something that applies to business & personal life as well. I’m very interested in putting this book on hold at the library. It covers this exact topic.

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