Rail Transit: You Get What You Pay For

Seattle Transit blog compares rail investments from five cities around the country.

June 9, 2016, 1:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Portland Transit

TFoxFoto / Shutterstock

Zach Shaner compares the transit planning in various cities around the country. Starting by comparing the cost of Seattle's current and planned transit investments under ST2 and ST3 with Portland's existing MAX Blue Line. To make the big point of the article Shaner uses a word some might consider inappropriate, so beware:

We frequently wonder around here [in Seattle] why our transit-building schemes are slow and expensive, and I’ve offered my best attempt at the process side of the equation already. But today I want to propose another reason: to put it bluntly, we’re building the good shit and nobody else is. 

Shaner is echoing the arguments of an article by Angie Schmitt from May, which parsed the specifics of the lowest performing rail transit lines in the country. Shaner's approach differs slightly, comparing the complete rail portfolio of the cities making rail transit investments and finding examples of success as well. The article compares the transit systems of Dallas, Denver, Portland, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Seattle (the latter is considered as built in 2023) on the metrics of frequency, capacity, grade separation. The comparison reveals that neither all transit systems nor all transit investments are created equally—and as such, they can't be expected to deliver the same results.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016 in Seattle Transit Blog


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