New York can't do it, and probably no other American city could either. New Delhi, a city with a dense population of some 14 million, has completed the first five miles (ultimately to extend over 62 miles) of a new, modern subway system, on budget and on time. The NYTimes says it's a rarity in Indian public works projects, but we all know its a rarity, if not unique, for any public works projects in this the firstest of the first world nations.
In a feat of engineering, construction workers are building almost seven miles of underground tunnels and nearly 32 miles of above-ground track without closing major roads. Down the center of busy avenues, precast 50-ton blocks of reinforced concrete are being fashioned into an overheard track. Cranes lift sections at night when there is little traffic. During the day, tens of thousands of cars speed underneath as workers secure the track.Riders are ecstatic. I'm ecstatic.
The trains arrive with a whisper, speak with a computerized voice and at times are driven by women. Passengers board quickly and quietly at stations that are clean and airy, with graceful 30-foot arched ceilings and computerized entryways.
In a city of 14 million people that otherwise tends toward controlled anarchy, it is a pride-inspiring marvel.
New Delhi's new $2 billion subway system, barely more than a month old, is altering Indians' view of themselves and their capital.
For Shashi Brabha and Sohan Sing, two beaming college students taking a ride purely for the pleasure of it, it represents all that India can be. "It was good," a grinning Ms. Brabha said after her first ride. "It was modern."