Car versus Transit

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Rail v Freeway per City

AGAINST RAIL Opponent Organizations FOR RAIL
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 systems.
 Transit 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."
Read 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 corridors.

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
PDF: page 54. The authors, (one voted for Pat Buchanan), call anti-transits "Troubadours"



            Help me
In Sacramento 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 to go.
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.
The Los 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 unmitigated disaster.
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 serve LA with rail has been an disaster in that still widely distributed region.

Capital 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: 1990-1995, 
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. in millions.
Using APTA’s figures, a proposal’s Actual number of riders should be calculated as 45 percent of the Reported estimated ridership. Center for Quality Growth

The St. Louis Metrolink Tax Where Did All the Money Go?
St. Louis MetroLink, the St. Louis metropolitan region's light rail system, operates on a 17-mile line. The system opened on July 31, 1993.
Read more
In 1950 metropolitan Seattle 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. Portland is 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.

Seattle's Link 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 traffic congestion.

Effects of 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 captive rider.

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.

Seattle & Portland
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 stations.

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 indicates that
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 STUDIESA 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 cars
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 Austin
  • 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.
  • Dallas 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.
  • DART 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 projections.
  • 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 rail).
  • 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 cities.
  • 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 Congestion
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 any way.
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 operations.  
  Denver 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
  Washington DC.
Read more
  San Jose Guadalupe Light Rail Line signaled a turning point Read more
PortlandNo traffic congestion relief from rail?
COX MYTH: "There is no connection whatsoever between new urban rail and traffic
"keeping pace with auto trips" - Wrong: Transit Market share was only  +1% 1990 - 2000
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.
Minimal impact since there are few new rail riders?
COX MYTH: “The impact on traffic congestion is even less, since on average fewer
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 Denver.
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 projected.
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 automobile.
Portland When Portland opened its second rail line, in the first year ridership in the corridor increased by 20,000 transit trips.
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 build?
COX MYTH: “On average the cost to build and operate motorways, including private
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 Person-Miles
                                      1982  1994  2000     94-00
75 area average              32     46      45         -1
Very large area average 37     45      48        +3

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 capacity.

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 systems.
Is there a cheaper way to get people out of their cars?
"Busways" (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 bus service.
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 place?
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 freeways?
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 laneSource

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.

Transit Truths:
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 Restriction Solution.



Disasterous Rail:

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.

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.