Sunday, March 6, 2011

Light Rail, Primary Arterial Transport

Skytrain is by far one of the best example of light rail done right in North America.  It carries over 300k people each day and runs an actual profit on operations.  No other system in North America can boast such an efficient, clean, and effective system.
The Sound Transit Central Link will likely become a very strong player in Seattle’s future transit.  The ridership this fourth quarter was up 5%, almost entirely because of Sound Transit Central Link.  Bus ridership stayed pretty much at the same level.  This is the same thing that has occurred in every single system (except Buffalo, NY) that built a light rail line to act as an arterial – or even minor arterial – transport.  The light rail, as people become familiar with it, regularly choose it over regular or BRT bus service, and a huge percentage of riders are choosing it over a car (i.e. they traditionally did not ride the bus or transit at all for that matter).  Light rail is a very effective way to increase transit usage, and in the long run it also decreases operational costs for a transit authority.
Light Rail in Seattle is set to be exceptionally costly in capital costs, primarily because of the city’s decision to build most (over 90% of it) in huge tunnels, raised above road & ground level, or placed underground (dig and cover style).  This has made the capital costs massive.  However, in 20 years, especially with inflation kicking in, the light rail will most likely prove to have been one of the most intelligent transit decisions in Seattle in well over 30 years or so.

Skytrain Vancouver, photo by Cee-Bee
Skytrain Vancouver, by abcde.
more posts about public transport in North America:

Tussle over SB 375 target for Southern California resolved, but funding challenges remain

Transportation: Austin - Rail studies costing city millions, before public vote

The Belt Line and Rail Traffic in Atlanta’s Urban Core

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