The benefits of adding light rail, commuter rail, subway, heavy rail, and streetcar to the public transit system . . .
Baltimore Rats | The Antiplanner
. . . is the death of the transit system.
"Baltimore’s first light-rail line opened in 1992. In 1982, before either of them were operating, Baltimore buses carried 122 million riders. In 2014, with a 15-mile subway and 30 miles of light rail, rail plus buses together barely carried 102 million riders. Maryland fills about 20 percent of the seats on both the subway and light rail, meaning it runs the emptiest heavy-rail trains and fourth-emptiest light-rail trains in the country."
We have seen this happen in city after city, year after year. The well managed bus transit system is augmented by rail, commonly light rail, and the ridership drops, costs escalate, and after about 30 years, the rail line begins to have serious problems, and deaths and injuries begin to rise, dramatically. And this is on the most deadly mode of transpiration in most cities.
Light Rail Increasingly Dangerous | The Antiplanner
Here in Portlandia, we found that after light rail became mature and maintenance costs began to rise, Metro began to cannibalize bus lines, and reduce the number of buses per route. Wait times for buses went up, and the poor found it much more difficult to access public transit. We found this was essentially up shifting resources from the public generally to the wealthier cohort of commuters. Perhaps we are unique, but we do not believe that prioritizing scarce public resources to assist wealthy commuters over poorer commuters is an appropriate allocation of resources. It is the politically expedient here in Portlandia.
Raw ridership numbers in Portlandia have not decreased when comparing the pre light rail, streetcar, tram, commuter rail, and bus current transit system to the older bus only system. However, the proportional share of riders using transit has declined. Today bicycle, walking, skateboarding, etc, carry more commuters than public transit. Prior to 1980, Portland metro transit carried 10% of commuters, today that is about 7.5% of commuters. Over time this share has continued to decline, and excepting recessions.
The cost of these modes of transit, light rail, subway, tram, streetcar are incredibly expensive, maintenance is very costly, and staffing, planning, and running the rail side is much more costly than bus. The result is the transit fare must remain high, or taxes on the local community, including the poor must be constantly raised.
Rail is performing an assisted suicide on public transit. Just in time for the self drive car, share ride model, and a number of as yet unknown models and ideas to swoop in and scoop up the frustrated, and available transit ridership.