View Full Version : Transit Ridership in American Cities
05-19-2008, 09:38 PM
Here's a report that highlights the troubles many American cities have had in building cost-effective light rail systems. It contains ridership data for many American cities during the period 1983-2003. I attach it mostly as food for thought as to why Boston has managed to make rail transport work where others haven't.
I'm sure many forum members here will find the slant of americandreamcoalition.org (http://www.americandreamcoalition.org) a bit foreign to their belief system, but the data itself is certainly interesting.
05-22-2008, 03:41 AM
Interesting though if the same study was to be done today, it will paint a total different picture as transit ridership has skyrocketed due to the increase in fuel prices.
05-22-2008, 03:41 PM
While I agree that focusing on commuters at the expense of urban dwellers is a poor route to follow, the majority of the analyses in this paper can be summed up as, "when you compare all the great things about cars to all the bad things about mass-transit, cars are better."
05-22-2008, 06:09 PM
I wouldn't expect anything different from a proxy of the Heritage Foundation.
05-22-2008, 10:26 PM
This kind of stuff makes me sick.
05-23-2008, 06:39 PM
As much as I don't particularly like it, cars are better than transit in the US because of the lack of density and the actual ridership that could possibly be achieved. Sub-urban transit systems are generally disasters with inefficient schedules. Everything is so far apart and decentralized cars make more sense.
Until settlement patterns shift back towards urban areas, there isn't sufficient density to fund mass transit given the cost to benefit ratio. The US needs to move back to a more centralized streetcar sub-burb model at the very least for basic mass transit to be efficient enough to justify its cost.
The Heritage foundation isn't against urban transit given the cost to benefit ratio. They actually had a pro-light rail study several years ago. It criticized projects that were very inefficient and similar to the Silver Lie phase III as being a waste of money and an actual detriment of areas that needed automotive access, and promoted projects in Seattle, San Francisco, and Philadelphia, where trolleys were immensely more efficient than private cars.
05-23-2008, 10:35 PM
I think bringing streetcars back gradually at first is the best step.
Cities around the nation (Boston not being one of them) are planning large, comprehensive, light rail systems which I think is a great idea but probably won't work unless they start to get really dense (which scares people).
If we bring back streetcars (the difference being streetcars run in the street and are lighter) first that will literally lay the track work for these cities starting to be more pedestrian friendly, and eventually they will need mass transit on a larger scale.
Look at LA, they are having a heck of a time getting their subway extended (after the clusterfuck it was when they originally built it). The problem is it isn't a city where point-to-point mass transit works. If they went back to the streetcar they would get a lot of cars off the roads, make the city more walkable, and create traffic corridors that would better suit a subway later on.
You gotta walk before you can run (which is something Americans need to be doing, m i rite!)
05-24-2008, 05:46 AM
The Heritage foundation is a group that gives important sounding titles to people who are not scholars or scientists and deliver studies that no legitimate scientist would touch. They are inconsistent when they talk about the subsidy of rail but not subsidies given the automobile. They sound like libertarians when talking about the free market but are the worst kind of social engineers when it comes to inflicting themselves on peoples private lives.
Talk of environmental damage is completely lost on these people- they don't care.
05-28-2008, 05:50 PM
After reading that study, I honestly don't think the transit infrastructure is to blame. Zoning density regulations should be greatly reduced in these major cities if they ever want to see their transit systems become marginally profitable. Don't get me wrong, I'm a total proponent for historical and natural preservation, but if these transit systems heavy and light rail systems are already in affect, than the communities around them need to drastically increase the urbanity around them and build upward. Building mixed-uses and having a centrally defined business district has proven to be an acceptable method in Boston for people to use mass transit. Perhaps its time other regions and cities follow Boston's example and construct henceforth with the pedestrian in mind... not the driver.
vBulletin® v3.7.3, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.