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Are Light Rail Systems Successful?

for Efficient Mass Transit

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Are Light Rail Systems Successful?

Frequently we hear anti-rail critics say light rail is a failure everywhere it is built. This is an easy statement to make and is usually offered without any cold hard figures to back it up. Next time you hear someone make that statement ask them for their figures to prove it, because the complete opposite is the real truth. We give you figures to support our statement:

  Estimated ridership Actual ridership
LOS ANGELES Blue Line light rail 50,000 73,000
BOSTON Highlands Branch light rail 12,000 28,000
SALT LAKE CITY TRAX light rail 14,000 20,000
ST. LOUIS Metrolink light rail 36,000 63,000*
PORTLAND MAX light rail 50,000 63,000
MINNEAPOLIS new Hiawatha light rail line exceeded first year projections by 58%
DENVER's Southwest light rail ridership was 67% above original estimates

*Note: St. Louis expanded twice since original estimates were made

The same type of results has been observed in almost all of the other cities across North America where light rail systems have been built in the past 25 years.

After being faced with these figures some anti-rail critics have tried to salvage what's left of their criticism by saying only current bus riders will use the new light rail systems. Once again the figures will not support their claims:

o In SALT LAKE CITY 45% of light rail riders were new to transit
o In ST. LOUIS 60% of light rail riders previously drove alone
o In DENVER 50% of light rail riders were replacing a car trip with a light rail trip
o In MINNEAPOLIS 40% of light rail riders were new to riding transit
Sources: APTA Public Transportation Benefits
Todd Litman Rail Transit in America

We will soon see if light rail in Charlotte does not bring similar results to this area.