Rail v Freeway per City
From 1982 to 2000 (summary)
in the 75
urban areas studied, passenger-miles of travel increased over 85 percent
on the freeways and major streets and about 25 percent on the transit
Relevant ANTI-TRANSIT "MYTHS":
is not important because its market share is so small. - they say
Ridership declined by about two-thirds in the last
50 years, from 23 billion annual trips to between eight and nine billion in
recent years. From 50 percent in 1945 to barely 2 percent by 1995."
THE RESPONSE:-"Only about half of
American households have transit available, and only about one-quarter have
transit available that they consider "satisfactory." People cannot ride what
isn't there. Moreover, transit has never carried a large share of
certain types of trips, such as shopping trips -- which today are the single
largest category of "total trips."
the full response
New Urban Rail Not Justified
Transit is competitive only with respect to a small portion of the urban
travel market. New rail transit systems can make no material contribution to
reducing traffic congestion.
Light rail has been demonstrated to be incapable of materially reducing
traffic volumes in downtown oriented corridors
As with virtually all of the rail systems built in the last
quarter century, traffic congestion will continue to worsen in the rail
Transit is funded at $26 billion annually.
Over 10 million Americans use transit for their daily work commute. Another
25 million people use transit less frequently. 150 million annual transit
trips. (Those 10 mil are not doing 400 commutes per year?) So that's $173 a
trip. The Positive Impact of Transit Investments
Center for Transportation Excellence
Responding to Wendell Cox
The Positive Impact of Transit Investments
TWELVE ANTI-TRANSIT "MYTHS":
PDF: http://www.apta.com/info/online/weyrich3.pdf page 54. The authors, (one voted for Pat Buchanan), call
the percentage of those who use light rail is only in single digits
yet it represents about 50 percent of the region’s overall transportation
budget. Light rail generated $6.3 million in fares in FY 1999, compared to
operating costs of $17 million
Its cost $20 to $30 million a mile. For that money per
mile you could buy 60 to 90 buses, clean fuel, low air pollution buses, that
don’t have any infrastructure, don’t have tracks to run on, have fairly low
capital and operating costs, and you can make them go wherever you want them
In Sacramento, “light rail is a huge
expenditure” which diverts 40 to 50 percent of all available transportation
funds into “a very limited system.” Estimated costs for one six-mile stretch
of light rail into south Sacramento are $200 million, money that’s not now
available for fixing roadway problems.
Angeles urban area, today, is far more concentrated than even
metropolitan Seattle or Portland - 5,800 people per square mile. An
ambitious, horrifically expensive effort to serve LA with rail has been an
Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority is now under federal court order
to quit raising rail fares . It must put hundreds of buses back into
operation, improve service, and reduce bus fares.
The Los Angeles
urban area, today, is far more concentrated than
metropolitan Seattle or Portland - 5,800 people per square mile. Immense
determination, political courage, and policy discipline would be necessary
for Seattle or Portland to match that density two generations hence. And an
ambitious, horrifically expensive effort to
with rail has been an disaster in that still widely distributed region.
expenditures on new rail systems often drain
resources from lower-cost but more effective alternatives. Nowhere has this been more clear than in
Los Angeles, where the
damage to bus ridership from the diversion of resources to rail far exceeds
any ultimate benefit expected to be derived from rail, a situation that
recently provoked a civil-rights lawsuit.
(The suit was brought on behalf of low-income and ethnic minority citizens
and bus drivers, represented by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Los Angeles Metropolitan
Transit Authority is now under federal court
order to quit beggaring service and raising
fares for low-income bus riders while lavishing resources on up-scale train
riders. It must put hundreds of buses back into
operation, improve service, and reduce bus fares. The roughly 15% of LA MTA patrons on the trains [average income $65,000] have
been the beneficiaries of 45 percent of the subsidies, while the 85 percent
on the buses
[average income less than $15,000] have received 55 percent-or roughly
one-fifth the level of per-ride transit subsidy.)
|As a significant point of
reference, ACE ridership (consisting mostly of
commuters going relatively long distances to
Silicon Valley) is 2,300 a day, with three inbound trips to
San Jose and two outbound trips to
Stockton. Metrolink’s Ventura line from
Oxnard to downtown Los
Angeles currently carries 3,500 daily weekday riders, up from
1,600 when the service began in September 1992. The Coaster now handles
4,500 weekday riders from Oceanside to downtown
San Diego, up from 1,900 per day at inception
in March 1995.
Quoting the St Louis Police Chief is
hardly a scientific argument.
St. Louis light rail
The $400 million St. Louis light rail line, considered by many to be the
most successful new line in the nation, has had virtually no impact on
adjacent freeway traffic volumes. The reason is not just that light rail is
inherently ineffective, it is rather that the primary destination it serves
is no longer so dominant.
In LA, Denver and St.
Louis express bus riders transferred to
automobile use for travel to downtown because of longer trip times as
a result of a forced transfer to light rail and
funding withdawl from busing.
St. Louis Analysis to Factor Out Double Counting
from Implementation of Light Rail - In Passenger Miles:
Between 1990 and 1995, St. Louis opened a light
rail line that accounts for an inordinately large percentage of boardings
(approximately 25 percent). During the same period other public transport
systems opened new rail lines or expanded rail services, but in no
metropolitan area was the rail ridership high enough in relation to existing
services to significantly move passenger "boarding" figures upward.
Ridership in St. Louis had declined by 35+ percent from 1980 to 1990. The
Bi-State Development Agency undertook an aggressive program to coordinate
bus and rail services, truncating many routes at light rail stations. As a
result, many trips that formerly required a single boarding now require two
boardings, as transfers are forced from buses to light rail. This effect is
to exaggerate the apparent increase in total transit boardings and per
capita boardings. In fact Boardings per capita increased 12.8% not 25% but a
more meaningful figure is "Passenger-Miles per Capita" .
A review of passenger mile data indicates the extent of the exaggeration.
From 1990 to 1995, passenger miles increased 3.3
percent, considerably less than the 15.4 percent increase in boardings.
From 1990 to 1995, passenger miles per capita
increased 1.1 percent, instead of 13.4 percent.
The other major transit authorities include Cleveland’s
GCRTA, with an annual reported ridership of 64 million vs. 29 million actual
riders; Cincinnati’s SORTA with 27 million vs.
12 million; Dayton’s MVRTA with 15 million vs.
6.6 million; Akron’s METRO with 8.2 million vs.
3.7 million; Toledo’s TARTA with 4.6 million
vs. 2 million; and Canton’s SARTA with a
reported ridership of 1.7 million but only 775,000 actual riders per year.
figures, a proposal’s Actual number of riders should
be calculated as 45 percent of the Reported estimated ridership.
http://www.buckeyeinstitute.org/ Center for Quality Growth
St. Louis Metrolink Tax Where Did All the Money Go?
Louis MetroLink, the St. Louis metropolitan region's light rail
system, operates on a 17-mile line. The system opened on July 31, 1993.
averaged over 5,000 people per square mile; in1990 the
average was roughly 3,000, just like Portland. This decrease in density is supposed to be reversed by
recent Growth Management Policies - ( adherence to urban boundaries, urban
in-fill, smaller lots, and greater use of apartments and condominiums)
-This could moderate this trend towards less density, with sufficient
political will and planning. But that is a very long-term strategy, because
the built environment changes slowly. The evolution from a density averaging
5,000 to 3,000 people per square mile took 40 years. Now zoning codes,
stipulated lot sizes, spacious single family homes, and height restrictions
are embedded, and average family size is smaller. To significantly
re-concentrate the built environment and "densify" the people who occupy it,
poses a formidable challenge, even if the region's county and municipal
councils had the resolve to pursue that goal.
nationally famous for its pioneering growth management policies, yet after
three decades its population density is utterly conventional
for an American city.
It makes sense to curb sprawl and use land more efficiently. It is
critically important to protect environmentally sensitive areas, and
desirable to maintain existing forests and farmlands. The provision of
bicycle and walking paths, and easy access to transit facilities for those
who prefer and need them, are desirable objectives. But
the ability of rail transport to contribute to such
constructive goals is negligible to
nonexistent. Rather, these intrinsically attractive amenities have been
disingenuously highjacked, and used to promote an
outdated, inflexible, noisy, capital-intensive,
ruinously expensive-to-operate rail system-with
the unstated premise that good urban design can exist only by imposing
immense costs on taxpayers. It is akin to the advertising stratagems of
clever auto-makers and cigarette companies that hype themselves and promote
their own ends by shrewdly associating their names with gorgeous scenery,
macho guys, and beautiful women.
light rail system promises to set a new standard for extravagance and
inefficiency. Who is it that signs off on these extravagant rail systems,
imploring voters, assigning funds, lobbying congress? Local government
officials: mayors, county executives, council
members. Who is it that zoned the land for sprawl? The exact same institutions, and by and large they're still
doing it. Having caved to the pressures to zone for sprawl, now they cave to
the pressures to spend for rail - hence
pleasing land developers, the construction
industry, and rail buffs alike. It's not a bad
strategy for staying in power, but it doesn't offer much as a response to
Light Rail Transit in Portland: Implications for Transit-Oriented
Development Design Concepts:
The Role of Changing Technologies
Gordon and Richardson (1995, 1997) respond to this question by arguing
that the proponents of compact development have overestimated the costs
of sprawl. These analysts conclude that continued improvements in
transportation and communications will in fact obviate the need for
concentrated settlement patterns. Tietz (1996) points to the
possibilities of ever-greater global communications promised by
increasing electronic interconnections. A new community is emerging —
one that does not rely on front-porch interchanges with passersby, but
instead on electronic connections from bedrooms and living rooms across
the globe. Genevieve Giuliano notes that there are several reasons why
the relationship between land use and transportation may not be as
strong as some planners want to believe. Perhaps most significant is her
conclusion that “transportation is of declining importance in the
locational decisions of households and firms. Transport costs make up a
relatively small proportion of household expenditures, and increasingly
flexible work arrangements (including telecommuting) are likely to make
access to workplaces even less important in the future” (1995, 8-9).
Based on the empirical analysis, three positive impacts of eastside
Light Rail Transit, LRT were observed. One is that households in the
outer portion of the rail corridor are less auto oriented. The second is
that households in the outer part of the rail corridor are also more
likely to use transit. The third is a bidding up of single-family
housing prices near rail stations in the outer part of the rail
corridor. All three of these impacts may be linked to self-selection or
residential sorting of households more prone to use transit. The
empirical analysis of multifamily housing development and density change
in the eastern suburban area of the Portland region served by light rail
transit and conventional bus transit provides evidence that light rail
alone has not been sufficient to change development patterns, auto
ownership, and transit modal behavior appreciably. Recognizing that
zoning high density around station areas may not be enough to increase
the impact of light rail, the Portland community of planners has
embraced the neotraditional planning approach, in an effort to “make
light rail work.” The New Urbanism’s higher densities and mixed-use
development will soon be tested in the political arena and the economic
marketplace. The extent to which these planning efforts can reverse
historic decentralization or halt the future trends augured by changing
improvements in transportation and communications technologies remains
to be seen. The risk that neotraditional planners take in emphasizing
the costly LRT component of transit-oriented design is that they may
ignore real, pressing needs. A plan that
puts expensive light rail before expanded bus service, as well as
highways and other mobility improvements, risks ignoring the majority
who do not live near light rail transit or who, because of family and
lifestyle needs, require an automobile. By
the same token, an emphasis on multifamily housing risks resulting in
decreasing and unaffordable options for households who, because of
family and lifestyle characteristics, desire or require singlefamily
housing ( Different Drummer 1996, 60-61). Finally, most TOD planning
efforts target areas of new growth, thereby continuing to neglect the
serious and complex problems of the inner city, where the most
transit-using and transit-dependent people reside. The emphasis becomes
misplaced, chasing the elusive choice rider while underserving the
In the Portland area, the current mode split is roughly 90 percent auto
and 7 percent transit, but the regional transportation plan calls for
the majority of new transportation investment to be devoted to transit.
Even with reliance on an extensive LRT system and supportive TODs and
auto disincentives, the expected gain is a large increase in transit
ridership, but that translates to a small shift in transit mode use,
from 6.3 percent to 7.4 percent of all trips in the region. This results
in an unbalanced multimodal investment strategy, one which will require
a larger total transportation investment than the region can afford if
highway capacity and other mobility improvements are to keep pace with
growth. The challenge to planners is to assess development trends and
consumer behavior. This assessment will provide the basis for estimating
market shares for dispersed and concentrated development forms. There is
undoubtedly a market for higher densities and mixed-use development. No
doubt, there is a segment of the population that prefers multifamily
living and traveling by transit. The challenge is to identify this
segment and to enhance their options without ignoring the needs of other
segments of the population. At the same time, planners are challenged to
respond to concerns about the environment and inequitable housing
through a multifaceted approach, which includes TODs, but also includes
more direct measures and reforms, including pricing.
This assessment of LRT impacts in Portland is both encouraging and
sobering. It identifies some emerging trends in residential location,
but the overwhelming trend toward auto use and decentralization serves
to caution against overly optimistic assessments of large impacts.
Tri-Met, the Portland metropolitan transit agency, operates a 33-mile MAX
light rail system. The first segment - Eastside MAX - was opened in 1986;
the second segment - Westside MAX - opened in 1998. The entire route has 50
Westside Max Celebrates Two Years on Track2000 Those two years have seen
16 million riders, with daily averages now above 71,000, a level not
expected until 2005. Light-rail
advocates have dropped the claim that train service will stop or
significantly ease street and freeway congestion. But
Portland Mayor Vera Katz told those at the
gathering that this area is the only one in the nation where the percentage
of transit use is growing faster than the percentage for vehicle miles
driven, according to federal statistics.
PORTLAND IS A FALSE
SUCCESS?Cox’s attack on Portland’s strategy
of marrying transit and land use seems to be intended
to show Portland is a false model, not something for other cities to learn
from. He believes sprawl and decentralization are inevitable and blithely
dismisses the litany of Portland’s significant accomplishments with
containing sprawl, growing transit riders and
revitalizing the central city as hollow marketing success
|Light Rail ridership does not
even equal a freeway lane?
COX MYTH: "An analysis of actual US data on all new light rail systems
no system carries more than 1/3 of the volume of a single freeway lane."
|FACT: During rush hour,
Portland’s Eastside Light Rail line is carrying on average 120 percent of
the peak hour capacity of the adjacent freeway lane.
Without the 2,900 people per rush hour carried on light rail,
Portland’s Banfield freeway would be much more
congested and cars would spillover on neighborhood streets. The
capacity of the rail line can be easily expanded with the existing signal
system to 5,300 people per hour - whereas the parallel freeway has a fixed
capacity of 2,400 people per lane per hour and cannot be expanded without
significant costs and disruption.
ALL TEXAS TRANSIT
Feasibility Analysis of San Antonio VIA's Light Rail Plan It is
estimated that light rail would remove no more than one out of every 250
The Illusion of Transit Choice (pdf)
A decade in which every metropolitan area that built or expanded rail lost
transit market share should have ended the debate
The lowest possible cost for the light rail line in
Texas is $46
million per mile!)
Analysis Of Affordable Transportation Options For
- Similar to
what happened in Portland:- In the 1983
campaign in support of a one cent sales tax to fund
Dallas DART, many promises were made to
Dallas taxpayers. DART advertisements told Dallas taxpayers that
light rail offered the best hope for reducing traffic congestion,
improving air quality, and revitalizing downtown Dallas. Light rail has
failed on all three counts.
underestimated their construction costs by more than 60% (inflation
adjusted) ($17.8 million per mile estimate; $45 million per mile actual).
The original plan was incompletely and poorly conceived. Subsequently, the
people of the DART service area face the same situation today with respect
to the proposed bond issue.
overestimated light rail ridership by 455% even though it subsidizes fares
by almost 88% -- the highest fare subsidy ratio of any Texas city. After
the election, DART officials drastically reduced their ridership
- Light rail
has not reduced traffic congestion. Traffic congestion has risen 35% since
the light rail election, an amount 10% greater than the national average
increase and greater than any other Texas city (none of which have light
- Light rail
has not improved air quality in Dallas, because to do so would require
reducing traffic congestion, which DART has not done.
- Light rail
has not spurred development. Downtown Dallas, the core of the light rail
system, rather than being revitalized, has the second highest office
vacancy rate (32%) in the entire U.S. and by far the highest among Texas
- Latest U.S.
Transit Database figures show Dallas to be dead last among Texas Transit
systems in most measures
Light Rail Success in Dallas,
Denver, Salt Lake and St. Louis
UTAH: UTA Rail Transit Does Not Reduce
UTA predicts that, with the tax increase, it can triple transit ridership by
2020. But it currently carries less than two-thirds of a percent of all
passenger miles in the Ogden-Salt Lake region.
Since auto driving is increasing even more than the tripling in transit
ridership, UTA would still carry less than 1.3% of all passenger miles in
the region. This is far too small a share for UTA to have any significant
effect on congestion.
UTA brags that it takes 81,000 cars off the road each day. This is
exaggerated, but even if true, it is insignificant compared with the 3.5
million auto trips taken in the region each day. UTA's light-rail line has
even less of an impact on traffic. The TRAX line takes so few cars off the
road that UTA would have to build a new line every month, at a cost of $4
billion per year, just to keep up with the growth of regional traffic.
Contrary to UTA's ads, people who don't use TRAX do not benefit from it in
Over the past three decades
Boston has added light
rail and commuter rail lines, and integrated its entire metropolitan transit
system. During that period, ridership has
remained essentially static, market share has diminished, and annual transit
subsidies have exploded from $30 million to
$560 million per year-which still isn't enough to sustain transit
RTD's Light Rail line, the Central Corridor, provided the Denver
metropolitan area its first experience with Light Rail Transit when it
opened for revenue service on October 7, 1994
Jose Guadalupe Light Rail Line signaled a turning point
|PortlandNo traffic congestion relief from rail?
COX MYTH: "There is no connection whatsoever between new urban rail and
"keeping pace with auto trips" -
Wrong: Transit Market share was only +1% 1990 -
|FACT: New urban rail lines
have been effective tools to help manage congestion.
Community leaders have come to learn that you can’t build your way out of
congestion with roads or transit. New rail lines and road improvements
provide temporary relief, but then the roads fill back up. The result is to
relieve congestion, not to solve it.
Houston and Phoenix
are wonderful illustrations of communities that have discovered they can’t
spend enough billions of dollars on roads to solve congestion. The
Phoenix metro area is presently investing $4.2
billion on new roads. Despite this massive investment in new freeway
capacity, congestion during commute times will actually be worse in 20
years. After investing billions in roads, both Houston
and Phoenix are actively pursuing new light rail systems to offer
citizens a balanced approach for managing congestion.
Portland. Westside MAX is demonstrating the
short-term congestion relief rail can offer.
Drivers will get out of their cars if they have an attractive choice for
avoiding the pains of congestion. According to an
Oregon Department of Transportation study, transportation
improvements made in the Westside corridor have increased transit trips, (keeping pace with auto trips and traffic would be
significantly heavier without those improvements.
Looking at data collected between May 1993, October 1997 and May 1999, they
found “transit’s share of westbound trips leaving downtown during evening
rush hour increased 5 percent, while the share of drive alone auto trips
declined 3 percent.
impact since there are few new rail riders?
COX MYTH: “The impact on traffic congestion is even less, since on average
than 25 percent of light rail riders are former automobile drivers.
You dont need to read the "FOR", opposite. All they talk about is how
ridership is up. They make no specific ref. to "former auto drivers".
Deliberately skirting the issue. Reported ridership figures have been proven
to be inaccurate due to not
accounting for double boardings. And anyway the increase in
customers is dwarfed by the huge increase in auto trips.
|FACT: New rail lines have
been successful in attracting new riders to transit and improving the
quality of service for existing riders. New riders comprise 45 percent of
riders in Salt Lake and 39 percent in
Rail systems are planned for both existing riders (bus riders) and
attracting new riders. A major benefit of rail is the ability to offer bus
riders superior quality service, and greater reliability from not being
stuck in traffic. And they do it at a lower operating cost per rider. The
myth is that somehow this is a problem.
Salt Lake. Prior to TRAX’s commencement of
service, UTA had projected an average weekday ridership of 14,000 people.
During TRAX’s first four months of operation ridership has greatly exceeded
the projected average weekday ridership of 14,000. While it was expected
that ridership would be exceptionally high during the holiday season (25,000
- 32,000), the average weekday ridership for January, February, March, and
April was 19,039, 18,956, 19,742, and 19,210 respectively, much higher than
Saturday ridership has also exceeded projections and even surpasses weekday
ridership with an average ridership of 22,561 (January), 23,138 (February),
23,591 (March), and 25,621 (April).
"We were always optimistic about TRAX, but its success has surpassed even
our expectations," said John Inglish. "We are especially pleased with the
success we have had in attracting new customers, who represent almost half
of our TRAX riders."
In order to gain an accurate profile of TRAX riders, UTA’s strategic
planning department surveyed approximately 2,000 riders during February.
Astonishingly, 45% of those surveyed indicated they were new transit riders.
St. Louis MetroLink carried nearly 9 million
customers during its first year of operation; almost double the projected
ridership of 4.8 million passengers.
Before service began, ridership was projected at 12,000 per day. In August
of 1993, the system’s first month of operation, approximately 30,000
passengers rode MetroLink each day. In June, 1998, the average weekday
ridership topped 46,750 commuters.
Denver The portion of new riders on Denver’s
first rail line ranges from 39% on weekdays to 93% on weekends.
“On weekends, the proportion of new and previous RTD riders is vastly
different. On weekends, nearly all of the park-n-Ride users (93%) were new
riders while only 4% were previous riders. In addition, 92% of the weekend
park-n-Ride users are new RTD riders
who ride Light Rail compared to 39% of weekday park-n-Ride users.”
Denver, like virtually all new rail lines has
found a strong market for non-work trips in addition to the work trip,
meaning there is a greater opportunity to reduce dependency on the
Portland When Portland opened its second rail
line, in the first year ridership in the corridor increased by 20,000
The addition of Westside MAX and improved bus service led to a 46 percent
increase in transit service in the corridor. Transit ridership in the
corridor rose 137 percent in 1999 to 33,900 average daily trips.
|Freeways are cheaper to
COX MYTH: “On average the cost to build and operate motorways, including
auto costs, are 1/7th that of light rail per passenger kilometer
I think Cox specifically said "passenger
kilometer". Don't see that opposite do you? So you can assume Cox is right
here. If only we COULD fill trains to capacity, but far from it I'm afraid.
Now the question remains what is the comparison at Peak Periods ONLY?
Change in Congested Peak-Period Travel, 1982 to 2000
Change in Travel During Congested Times, 1982 to 2000 in
1982 1994 2000 94-00
75 area average
32 46 45
Very large area average 37 45
From 1982 - 2000, less than half (49 percent) of the roadway that was needed
to maintain a constant congestion level was actually added.
Hours Change in Annual Delay per
Peak Road Traveler, 1982 to 2000
Note that widening a freeway, one lane in each direction, in rural
areas is $5 per mile and is magnitudes cheaper than the equivalent rail
system. (Marin Rail's existing track and right of way is still more
expensive per passenger mile than a freeway lane).
|FACT: Urban freeways cost
significantly more to build than light rail.
In Portland, the Oregon State Department of
Transportation estimated the freeway alternative to a light rail project
would cost $1.74 billion more ($1.5 billion for 21 miles of rail verse $3.24
billion for a 6 lane freeway) for a freeway of half the length and half the
Is light rail
popular elsewhere in the U.S?
No. All five light rail tax elections in the U.S. in 1999 were
defeated soundly. Since 1988, 79% of light rail elections have been
defeated by an average margin of 14 percentage points even though proponents
outspent opponents by at least 12 to 1. More importantly, every city that
has light rail has defeated multiple ballot measures to expand their
Is there a cheaper way to get people out of their
(new freeway and arterial lanes dedicated for use by buses) would attract
twice as many new transit riders at one-fourth the cost of light rail.
Houston attracted new transit ridership
at a cost less than one-fourth that of Dallas through busways and express
Will light rail improve air quality?
Since so few automobile drivers switch to light rail, it has little or no
positive effect on air quality. Light rail stations are not within
walking distance (1/4 mile) from at least 99% of destinations in the urban
area. As a result, people must drive to rail stations. The nation's most
comprehensive and expensive new rail system (Washington,
D.C.) is credited with removing barely 1% of emissions in the area.
How long will the increased sales tax be in
Forever. The proposed quarter cent tax will be permanent and will
cost taxpayers millions of $s per year, an amount which will grow each year.
Is light rail less expensive than building
No. According to TXDoT, local freeway construction costs are from
$4-12 million per (2-way) lane mile compared to the national average cost of
$70 million per mile for light rail. Additionally, nowhere in the U.S.
does light rail carry more than 1/3 of the actual passenger volume of a
single freeway lane.
Rail deprives Transit-Dependent People
Providing rail transit on one route means denying bus improvements on
many other routes. Indeed, rail is so expensive that passage of the sales
tax increase and construction of more rail lines will probably lead to
less transit service (buses), overall.
1. Autos are far less expensive (per passenger mile) than rail (which is
highly subsidized). For more than a quarter century, federal, state and
local policies have sought to entice people away from automobiles and into
public transit. More than $300 billion in public subsidies have been
expended to support transit --- this amount rivals what was spent to build
the entire interstate highway. The overall failure of these policies rivals
that of the "war on poverty."
2. Traffic congestion compared to what? Average Commuting Time on transit
is double that of automobiles. People just don't want a lengthy walk
from a station or have to wait for a connecting bus. So why fight the
people's transport of choice, the automobile.
3. A freeway lane carries 5 times the person-miles of a light rail system
4. Electric Rail absorbs more energy (per passenger mile) than auto,
believe it or not.
San Francisco Commuting:
1. LA and San Francisco's Commute
Miles Driven per Capita has remained the same over the 10 years (90-99).
Most other cities have steadily declined.
2. San Francisco already has more Suburban
Transit Boardings than any other US City. Yet boardings declined 7% (90-95)
like most other cities did. The city cannot
accommodate additional rail-boat commuters from Sonoma.Click to see the Development
So why doesn't rail generally work in
American cities? The reason is
exceedingly simple: the technology is
far too expensive. Sound Transit is
setting out to serve the transportation needs of a far-flung region with a
light rail system estimated to cost $100 million per mile. People have a
complex set of destinations they need to reach: how extensive a network can
be formed at a cost of $100 million per mile? But unless the transit system
becomes a highly elaborated network,
it simply cannot get many people from where they are to the myriad
destinations to which they routinely travel.
Even buses fail to do the job well, and they're far better suited to
the task than trains are. They're less costly, more flexible, and
consequently forge a more intricate network of service. But
train promoters shamelessly use the
shortcomings of buses as an excuse to promote rail schemes. When they succeed, they make an already inefficient transit system markedly
less efficient, driving up costs, and
driving down market share. As Professor Richmond found, and reported in
Transitory Dreams: How New Rail Lines Often Hurt Transit Systems.
Rail dreamers can fantasize about
recreating the train-dependent human settlement patterns of the 19th
century, but it is absolutely impossible, for this simple reason: they're
not prepared to outlaw the competition, the automobile. So it's
the rail partisans' cumbersome, rigid, enormously expensive, hard-to-get-to
technology vs. a nimble, efficient, affordable, sexy, instantly-available
system of transport-the car-that comes equipped with heat, air conditioning
and stereophonic sound. See if you can pick the winner.