The American West's Transportation Revolution

After decades of planning and development of its urban rail networks, will the American West change its image from car cornucopia to transit paradise?

After many decades (and many billions of dollars spent), urban rail networks in American West Coast cities are finally coming-of-age. San Lubell and Ariel Rosenstock, of the Architect's Newspaper, report, "[n]ew lines, stations, infrastructure, and transit-oriented developments are popping up and in planning stages in and around Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego. And if you count West Coast–adjacent cities such as Phoenix and Denver, there are even more."

Not only are cities seeing increases in the size of their transit infrastructure, existing transit lines are seeing increased ridership numbers. Lubell and Rosenstock find, "[a]ccording to the American Public Transportation Association, from 1995 through 2010, public transportation ridership increased by 31 percent...perhaps the most compelling reason for the expansion is the crippling impact of traffic in the region and in the country, and its accompanying demons-sprawl, pollution, and climate change."

But are West Coast cities the next transit utopias? Don't bet on it just yet. "Besides pockets of underuse, rail and light rail are still far from reaching the tipping point on the West Coast," say Lubell and Rosenstock, "In LA, for example, 80 percent of the city's residents still don't live within convenient distance to rail [and] slower returns from Measure R's tax-related funding have forced the completion of LA's Purple Line subway extension beyond 2030."

Still, as it transforms municipal land use patterns, rail's return to the West is worth paying attention to. Read the details of each city's progress in the Architect's Newspaper article.

Full Story: Feature> On The Right Track


Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

New! 4th Edition of the Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs just released.
Starting at $24.95

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $209
Book cover of Insider's Guide to Careers in Urban Planning

So you want to be a planner...

Check out our behind the scenes look at 25 careers in the Urban Planning field
Starting at $14.95
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $16.95 a month