Monday, June 4, 2012

Repairing Roads -- Why Can't the US be More Like Sweden?

I read the excellent OpEd piece by Robert Frank of Cornell University that was published in The New York Times on how the repair of roads in the United States might end other types of gridlock (political, let us hope, and also economic by putting people to work).

I arrived in Gothenburg, Sweden, this past Thursday. This is my second extended stay in this lovely city, which is the second largest in Sweden.

As is appropriate, I am a Visiting Professor of Operations Management at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg and am seated in my office surrounded by my Transport & Logistics colleagues and my Finance colleagues (similar to my situation back at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst).

I continue to be impressed about the wonderful transport, including road infrastructure, in this city (and wherever I have traveled in Sweden before the contrast with the US has stunned me).

There is a lot of activity here now in parts of the city in repairing the sidewalks and the roads. The workers in their uniforms have even been planting flowers down the major avenue.

No wonder there are so many people of all ages promenading around the city as well as in the lovely parks and cafes.

In addition, the traffic flows well and I continue to be impressed by the multiple modes of transport that are available here -- from the trams and busses to the ferries and even bicycles, which one can borrow at various locations.

There are also bicycle lanes and pedestrian lanes.

Thanks to Robert Frank for again emphasizing what we have been writing about from our Fragile Networks book to various other writings, including an invited commentary for Resources for the Future.

When will the US get some of its pride back? Without repairing and investing in our networks, we cannot move the economy forward. Physical goods and services cannot be delivered digitally.