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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?
July 29, 2012, 9am PDT | Andrew Gorden
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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.

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Published on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 in The Architect's Newspaper
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