Cities Discovering the Limitations of Half-Baked Rail Plans

Presenting less of an argument against transit than an argument for good transit and land use planning, Streetsblog surveys some of the country's worst performing rail lines.

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May 13, 2016, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


trax light rail train in foreground, snow-covered mountains in background

vxla / flickr

Angie Schmitt surveys the lowlights of new rail projects, "attracting embarrassingly few passengers." According to Schmitt, most of the underperforming lines are mostly mixed-traffic streetcars, "but that's not the only way to mess up." The blinking light of the headline states the main takeaway: "just laying track is no guarantee riders will come."

Schmitt's survey starts in Dallas, before connecting to Atlanta, Salt Lake City, and Cleveland. The article includes links to primary sources and local commentary on the state of underwhelming rail transit.

For the sake of comparison, Schmitt also notes the more successful versions of streetcars, located in Tucson and Kansas City (though the latter has only just opened, to much fanfare, and will require more time to determine its ridership).

Schmitt's argument, about the need for quality transit planning, connected to quality land use planning, differs from other critiques of underperforming transit systems, such as this article by Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox from October 2015.

Thursday, May 12, 2016 in Streetsblog USA

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