A Mere $54 Billion for Light Rail | The Antiplanner
$54 billion for light rail? What we found in Portlandia is light rail does not move anyone. Portland has spent many billions of dollars on light rail since the mid 1980s, yet ridership has fallen from around 10% of commuters during the 1970s to about 7.5% of commuters today. Total transit ride share also remains nearly nonexistent at about 2.5 % of total daily trips. The billions of dollars expended on light rail account for only about 40% of transits share so only about 4% of commutes, and 1% or less of total trips. These numbers amount to little more than rounding errors. I have long wondered if total daily trips made by skateboard are greater then the total number of trips taken by light rail riders. It has to be close.
Sound Transit wants a $54 billion light rail expansion: Will the last person leaving Seattle - TURN OUT THE LIGHTS!?
Ridership is commonly calculated based on maximum occupancy, and sometimes on standing occupancy. But no light rail in the Northwest will ever have this level of occupancy for more than perhaps one to one and one-half hours per day. Off peak there are few riders. The idea that all of Seattles light rail, including this $54 billion fantasy, and its complete bus system will very likely be significantly less than 5% of a all metro area trips.
The data I found shows Seattle transit has less than a 3% share of total trips, and about a 10% share of commuter trips. I could not tell if this is the metro area, or just the city of Seattle. This would seem more likely the city. Cities commonly have higher commuter share, than total metro areas.
Regardless, no one takes transit, whether to work, or for other trips. The thought of spending $54 billion on infrastructure which will of limited use is incomprehensible. That amount might be fine, if Seattle had no other pressing issues like poverty, transportation, quality of education, housing affordability, etc. But Seattle has myriad problems all vying for solutions, all vying for money.
Something is wrong when communities become so detached from prudent fiscal policy so they can request huge expenditures like this for inane reasons.
We are at the end of the progressive era, the progressives are unwilling to confront this fact, and begin building the new economic model. Instead they continue to double down on all of the failed progressive ideas which have come before. It is time for the electorate to wake up before these fools spend us into real bankruptcy.