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Transportation

Amazon's HQ2 Hunt Is a Transit Reckoning

There are smart ways to overhaul trains and buses, and not-so-smart.
Rail bias: it's a thing.
Rail bias: it's a thing. David Zalubowski/AP Photo

If anything good comes out of the current arms race between North American cities to land Amazon’s second headquarters, it might be a disruption of one of the more intractable subjects of public discourse: mass transportation.

Direct access to rail, train, subway and bus routes was chief among Amazon’s requirements in the request-for-proposals it issued to cities nationwide in search of its second headquarters. As readers may by now be sick of hearing, the colossus of e-commerce is promising bidders 50,000 new jobs with average salaries of $100,000, plus $5 billion of investments: a siren’s song to cash-hungry and not-so-cash-hungry metros alike. Cities are now jousting thirstily for Amazon’s attention, a spectacle that has been at turns entertaining, embarrassing, and legitimately provocative.