Light Rail Expanding Rapidly
in Western Cities
The initial projection for ridership during the first year was approximately 14,000 daily riders. By spring of 2000, the system was already carrying about 20,000 passengers each weekday. Evening ridership was also heavy and 30-minute headways were scrapped in favor of trains running every 15 minutes. Up to three cars in each train are used to meet demand, instead of just two. Just approved is a 2.5 mile extension to the University of Utah.
Portland Oregon, adding to its already extensive light rail system, is constructing a new line to is airport. Service will start in 2001. Daily ridership on Portland’s Gresham to Hillsboro MAX line has now reached 63,000, jumping from less than 30,000 when the first line was opened in 1986. (This is the system Wendell Cox calls a “failure”.)
Portland is also building a modern streetcar line, which will extend from Portland State University, through the downtown area to their north side. Further extensions of their light rail system are under study.
Denver, Colorado, extended its light rail line approximately another eight miles further south to suburban Littleton in June 2000. A new light rail spur about two miles long is now under construction. It will serve the new Broncos Stadium and the Pepsi Center.
Planned or under study are additional light rail lines to suburban Lakewood and the Denver Technology Center. Another line, possibly commuter rail, may extend to the new Denver International Airport.