Only Six Cities Are Worthy of Rail Funding, Manhattan Institute Scholar Decrees

Sorry, Seattleites. Your city just isn't a good "fit" for rail, according to Manhattan Institute senior fellow Aaron Renn. Photo: Oran Viriyincy/Flickr
Sorry, Seattleites. Your city just isn't a good "fit" for rail, according to Manhattan Institute senior fellow Aaron Renn. Photo: Oran Viriyincy/Flickr

A new report from Manhattan Institute senior fellow Aaron Renn argues that the federal government should stop supporting new rail lines in cities across the country and instead focus on repair work in six “legacy cities.” The problem is that, by ignoring the way many of those “legacy cities” got their rail systems in the first place, Renn’s proposal would cut off transit’s nose to spite its face, and needlessly condemn American cities to car dependence in the process.

On his personal blog, Renn runs through the litany of woes at the nation’s aging subway systems, from crowding to broken equipment. Then he sets up a false choice, claiming that “transit advocates still want to keep building new dubious light rail lines around the country instead of fixing the system’s we’ve got.”

After painting “transit advocates” as a monolith bent on riding empty Sunbelt streetcars while busy subways in the northeast fall apart, Renn turns to Donald Trump’s effort to slash transit expansion funding as a source of inspiration. “Transit advocates should use Trump’s call to eliminate New Starts as an opportunity to rethink capital funding, shifting away from new and highly dubious light rail lines towards fixing up the nation’s most critical subway systems that are in terrible shape,” he writes.

To Renn, there are only six cities deserving of rail capital dollars.

“Apart from New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, U.S. cities are a poor fit for rail transit,” the Manhattan Institute report claims. “Of the 53 U.S. metro areas with more than a million residents, only five have at least 10% of their commuters use any kind of public transit; and only 11 have at least 5% of commuters use public transit of any kind.”

It’s a perfectly circular argument: Because most American cities don’t currently have robust transit, we shouldn’t bother building it.

It’s particularly ironic that Renn chose Washington, DC, as one of the six “legacy” cities deserving of rail capital funding. After all, the reason DC has a rail system in the throes of a mid-life crisis is because, about 50 years ago, local leaders and the federal government agreed to spend money on building a new rail system where none had been before. Then they pursued zoning and policy changes to build transit-oriented development around those rail stations.

Today, the national capital region has a big transit system that Renn has deemed worthy of investment. One has to wonder what he would have said about the Metro when it was proposed in the 1960s.

Manhattan Institute senior fellow Aaron Renn. Photo: Jin Won (James) Park via Aaron Renn/Urbanophile
Manhattan Institute senior fellow Aaron Renn. Photo: Jin Won (James) Park via Aaron Renn/Urbanophile

Other cities are today where Washington was a few generations ago.

Take Houston. Its light rail system has benefited from New Starts funding, and the initial section saw more riders per mile than almost any other light rail system in the nation. In Seattle, New Starts is helping to fund light rail expansion while the city undertakes significant infill development that will boost density and bring thousands of people within easy access of the growing system.

Renn argues that instead of building rail, most American cities should focus only on buses. It’s true that cities have a lot to gain from improving bus service, yet Seattle and Houston are managing to walk and chew gum at the same time. Both cities have expanded light rail while overhauling their bus systems.

It’s telling that Renn fails to mention the Federal Transit Administration’s metrics for evaluating the applications it receives for New Starts and Small Starts funding. Despite what his report might lead you to believe, federal money isn’t haphazardly handed out to “trains to nowhere” at the expense of repairing aging systems. During the Obama administration, the rules were tweaked [PDF] to consider environmental and economic benefits while reducing the focus on saving time for primarily suburban commuters.

Sometimes these metrics yield good results and sometimes they do not. There’s certainly a case to be made for fine-tuning the FTA guidelines, but there’s no reason to deem entire swaths of the country unfit for rail funding.

40 thoughts on Only Six Cities Are Worthy of Rail Funding, Manhattan Institute Scholar Decrees

  1. Also worth noting that the Trump budget makes no distinction between New Starts (for new projects) and Core Capacity (fixing “legacy” systems) projects. It proposes eliminating funding for both.

  2. I agree that not everywhere needs high capacity rail (ahem, Dallas), and most mixed-traffic streetcar projects are complete boondoggles, but light rail has it’s place and has been quite successful in a number of places. I think it’s entirely possible and reasonable to both expand capacity where needed and repair existing infrastructure.

  3. I’d add that HOW we build transit is just as important as how much we build. Dallas is cited as a prime example of bad decision, and that’s true. They built lots of track miles but achieved very low ridership. That’s because Dallas built a sprawling system with no TOD incentives, while maintaining high incentive to drive into downtown (tons of free parking downtown, and lots of new roadway capacity). They built a bunch of transit, and at the same time did nearly everything possible to undercut it’s effectiveness.

    Seattle, on the other hand, is pushing TOD at nearly every new station, and it’s working. Apart from the Alaska Way boondoggle, they aren’t expanding roads, and parking lots are rapidly being redeveloped as dense housing. Transit use is soaring. So yeah, maybe let’s not give money to the Dallases out there, but the Seattles should get money to build effective transit. Maybe this means a change in the criteria for how the money is distributed.

  4. Renn also ignores an important point: the core of most mid size and larger American cities were built by transit. Before freeways, the Interurban set the basic architecture of most prewar urban spaces. Those areas largely remain the core of city centers and inner ring suburbs. Federal policy underwrote the demise of such systems through numerous auto subsidies. Can light rail work in the outer suburbs? I’m still uncertain. But it can—and does—work in inner ring areas when it’s done right

  5. This reminds me — I’m amazed that Nicole Gelinas, whose arguments are cogent and more often than not (as far as I’m concerned) spot-on has anything to do with the otherwise dopey Manhattan Institute.

  6. Misses a large point. In Los Angeles, where a lot of rail construction has happened, the core area and downtown have ridership levels of about 50% for people who live and work in the area. The much higher percentage of solo drivers are caused by averaging the entire county and coming up with what look like pathetically low transit share, when in fact, the well served areas have very high shares when the actual service area is considered.

  7. LA, Seattle, Baltimore, and soon Houston will all fit the bill.

    But there are trains to nowhere. Have you ridden on the Norfolk Tide Light Rail? No? Right because it is a ghost town.

  8. San Diego, Portland, Salt Lake City, Denver, Honolulu, and Miami also fit the bill.

  9. Portland Yes
    Miami maybe(it didnt 20 years ago but things have changed and I havent been back)
    SLC, Denver, Honolulu IDK

    San Diego….It has a nice compact downtown, but then it really starts to sprawl out like the worst parts of LA. But with less sidewalks, less of a grid, and more hills. I’ve tried using their light rail system and unless you drive to the station and then take it downtown or to the Mexican border it is really not very useful. It’s got land use problems. It has walk ability problems. Really a shame considering the weather is so perfect.

  10. He has got a point, as most cities have invested in pretty substantial, although misused, road networks. The first step towards improving transportation for everyone is to end the “Soviet breadline” treatment of the road network. Many places have road space shortages, the cost to use the road space has been under-priced, and everyone lines up to use it. Institute congestion pricing, and we will see speeds increase, vehicle use decrease, and passengers-per-vehicle increase. Once that is in place, then rail will become very relevant where two important factors are present: 1) too expensive to expand roadway space, 2) cost-per-passenger is high enough to justify the cost of rail.

  11. If we’re only considering funding, which is what most anti-rail arguments turn on, and not design: considering rail is cheaper per passenger-mile than buses in most cities that have both, it doesn’t seem to me that localities are making particularly bad financial decisions in this area.

    If we were actually over-indulging in rail projects, we could expect more rail to be more expensive per passenger-mile than buses because faulty projects without riders would emerge more often. But then, I don’t see how over-indulging in rail is worse than the current status quo of over-indulging in roads.

  12. Actually, the Norfolk Tide would be quite useful if it went to Virginia Beach.

  13. The tide is 7.4 miles long with a daily ridership of 4100(down from close to 5k) That’s 550 riders per mile. That’s not just low, that is abysmal. Dallas DART gets twice that and is a failure. Phoniex gets 4 times that and isn’t popular. Portland, San Diego, LA, and Houston and Seattle all get in excess of 4 times that.

    If the tide went to Virginia beach, it would be 20 miles long.
    Assuming the same ridership per mile, it would have a ridership of 11100. I think that is optimistic looking at the land use around the 13 miles from where the Tide ends to the beach, but it might be higher. The question is how much higher? Are weekend trips to the beach going to double the ridership per mile? I doubt it, but even if it did, it still wouldnt be anywhere near a decent investment.

  14. It seems way too soon to call Tide a failure, and as far as construction practices go it seems like something other parts of the country could learn from.

    Whether Tide will be successful probably turns on future land use practices. Much the same can be said for whether DART could be successful, if the locality willed it.

    (Of course, nobody is defining success here. I like to see these kinds of projects grow in ridership and become part of their local urban fabric.)

  15. If projects like Houston’s Red Line and LA’s Regional Connector count as “wasteful”, then there are more than a handful of expansion projects in the legacy cities of far more questionable value, that the politicals have prioritized over state-of-good-repair projects. Just consider NYC’s PATH WTC and EWR extension, CTA Red Line extension, MBTA SCR, BART’s endless extensions among others. That these cities deserve additional federal funding just based on their own existential merit is slightly preposterous, and shifting political support entirely towards SoGR is just as difficult as curbing non-legacy projects.

  16. The passenger-mile is not a great indicator of agency “responsibility” vis-a-vis building transit to dense locations. The LRT figure is heavily boosted by virtue of the mile part of pax-mile. Analyzing the subsidy per trip, LRT comes out worse in some cities, but the biggest offender of them all are the diesel-hauled, single-purpose commuter rail lines that take suburbanites on a two-trip ride to the CBD and back.

  17. It’s a perfectly circular argument: Because most American cities don’t currently have robust transit, we shouldn’t bother building it.
    This kind of chicken-egg logic blows my mind. The only transit that’s worthwhile are the systems we’ve “inherited”, but we can’t and shouldn’t build more of it. It’s just not what we do here.

    Most US cities are a poor fit for rail because they’ve been sucking at the teet of federal highway construction and have focused on an auto-centric system of land use planning for more than six decades. That kind of dependence and inattention isn’t going to solve itself, and any transition is certainly not going to be painless. America is addicted to roads, and we need to start kicking the habit.

  18. Thank you for pointing out the logical inconsistency of lumping DC in with those other, much older systems as “legacy” systems. I have had this same reaction reading others of his articles where he cites the same 6 metro areas.

    “Today, the national capital region has a big transit system that Renn has deemed worthy of investment. One has to wonder what he would have said about the Metro when it was proposed in the 1960s.”


  19. Some of what I wrote directly to Aaron over several e mails.

    Pitting needed new rail transit against keeping existing transit in a “state of good repair” is a false choice. There is enough waste in DoD alone to fix everything, and build literally a hundred miles of new rail transit–not to mention the “off budget” trillions squandered on the Afghan and Iraq follies. As to the idea that cities not forward looking enough to already have some rail transit should be relegated to buses, a look at CTA in recent years shows riders abandoning buses in favor of rail (LA too). Much of this is agency driven by route cutting and poor operation of buses–again CTA, but also DC Metro are examples. The first elevated railways in NYC begun within a decade of the Civil War recognized that even horse drawn traffic was an impediment to the “omnibuses”; thus putting trains on exclusive ROW was the answer.

    If, as I suspect, you are in part reacting to the breakdowns at Penn, and the general crowding of the entire NY subway system, you might be interested to know that 60 years ago the NYC subway claimed a greater TPH capacity than they operate today on nearly every line. What’s more 2 of the most crowded, the E and F, were run w/ 11 cars as opposed to 10 today. In turn the “dash” from 59th to 125th on the IND did not have the speed reduction enforcement currently slowing those trains. The fact is that NYC has decreased the throughput of the system, and maintains an inadequate fleet to satisfy the market.
    The same fleet issue hobbles DC Metro which although built to run 8 car trains has never had enough cars to do so on a consistent and system wide basis. CTA is slightly better off, but a comparison of today’s schedules to the claims in the 50s (station signage proclaiming xx min to Loop) shows the similar slow downs.
    LA’s Orange Line bus trying to be a train has garnered so many riders that they are running nose to tail. Totally private ROW with a few grade crossings (it HAD been a rail line) and will be much more efficient when the tracks are restored–a single train driver 3 articulated units instead of three drivers for 3 buses. And, of course net energy for steel wheels on steel rails is much better than rubber tires on tarmac. FWIW, though I don’t have the reference to hand, I have read claims that LA actually is fairly dense–in the range you cite for Philly, Boston etc.
    The next point to remember is that intensely wasteful land use policies encouraging sprawl which defeat ANY sort of transit remain bad policy whether you favor paving huge swaths of arable land, or building circumferential railways.
    Even if all of the SOVs currently deployed immediately became electric (eliminating the carbon pollution driven health costs) providing ever more lanes for morning and evening mass parking lot boredom exercises is still a poor resource allocation. And let us not forget the 40,000 annual population control lottery associated w/ auto usage. If you have drunk the self driving cars will save us kool-aid, I would point you at
    Jarrett Walker’s Human Transit for a wonderful graphic showing street occupancy comparing equal numbers of humans in SO cars, bikes and a bus.

    and in a reply after Aaron questioned the need for rail in Durham.

    Considered without any reference to what else is happening in/around Durham, I can’t say. Is the new line going to serve a major destination–medical center, university, large office area? Transit works best either going to a known destination or as the development tool for the future. I have seen pictures of Queens Boulevard (the E, F tunnels in Queens) when the subway was being built–there was NOTHING out there. Now the trains are sardine cans all day. Historically real estate speculators were either in league with or the very same folks building streetcar/elevateds/subways/ commuter rail routes. Why is this no longer acceptable to the right wing anti transit crowd? Could it be that because the transit is not private sector it is evil–unlike the public sector highways they are universally agitating for? Governor Hogan in MD (where I grew up) is talking about wasting another hundred million widening a short segment of I 270 which, as the WaPo noted the previous time merely induced more traffic thus no saving in travel times and all of the time lost during the construction wasted. The same ,money “bribing” CSX by building them a third main track in return for more “slots” to run commuter service would be a much better investment.

    About transit advocates opposing bad projects. Yes, I am sometimes in that mix. I would point at the “Red Extension” which CTA wants to build as a seriously dumb waste of funds. The South Shore Line had 4 stations where the Red Line is proposing to build new infrastructure–restoring them and adding a second track to the current setup is clearly cheaper and could be done much sooner. Adopting Mike Payne’s proposal
    to make MED useful again in consort with beefing up South Shore service and fully fare integrating all of Metra within CTA’s territory is a much better use of scarce funding sources to massively improve transit options all over Chicago.

    Last but not least, restoring the Green Line Jackson Park branch (of CTA) to Stony Island including a fully ADA functional transfer facility to MED at 63rd St, is the best way to provide access to the proposed Obama Library and Tiger Woods golf paradise.

  20. The LRT figure is heavily boosted by virtue of the mile part of pax-mile.

    …and that’s a bad thing? If I understand your complaint, I guess there’s probably at least anecdotal evidence that (more?) passengers are willing to take somewhat longer trips on LRT, but I see that as positive.


    Analyzing the subsidy per trip, LRT comes out worse in some cities

    ..on the flip side, some of those passengers might be paying the same fare as people taking shorter bus trips, which is arguably a bad thing.

    Though it still seems that overall those LRT networks are financially outperforming the buses in the same agency (i.e., getting more income per passenger-mile, or at least having enough extra passenger-miles to keep the revenue:cost ratio lower). Newer systems don’t hit the mark as well on that though.

    …purpose commuter rail lines that take suburbanites on a two-trip ride to the CBD and back.

    I’m not so sure it’s worth complaining about their finances. They are cheaper than anything per passenger-mile, and IIRC their revenues aren’t usually much worse than urban transit systems relative to their costs.

    Their biggest offense comes down to urban design. Those types of services are making it easier to live in the suburbs and own an automobile.

  21. Yes, Renn’s criterion “U.S. metro areas with more than a million residents” seems to carefully dilute the fact that the City of Los Angeles alone has way over a million residents (3.97 million) and an 11% commuter transit share by lumping it in with the surrounding metropolitan area.

  22. Bingo. Boston proper is more densely populated than any other major city save San Francisco and NYC proper (and Cambridge and Somerville are as or more densely populated as San Francisco proper), but the Greater Boston MSA is slightly less populated than the LA MSA. There are plenty of towns 10-15+ miles out of Boston proper where single family homes sit on 2+ acres of land that just doesn’t exist in LA.

  23. kclo3 has it right: the per-ride is a better metric than the per-passenger-mile. The per-passenger-mile fails to take into account that those who live in the urban core (subways, LRT, and buses) travel far less distance on average than suburban commuters.

    Further, as people commute from further out from the LRT/subway line, it makes it harder to do maintenance work, etc. as more people are adversely affected by end-of-the-line station closings.

    As for the bus, a disproportionate share of city bus riders (50 percent of DC Metrobus riders have annual incomes below $30K while 50 percent of Metrorail riders have annual incomes over $100K; in Boston, 40-45 percent of MBTA bus riders are low income and/or minority while only 7 percent of commuter rail riders are low-income) live in rapid transit deserts, lack a car, and work irregular hours. These people depend upon the bus to get to work on time. The elderly and the disabled (and others unable to drive and without cars) living in major cities such as NYC and Boston are also dependent upon the buses as a disproportionate share of rapid transit stations (and the whole Green Line in Boston) are not disability accessible the way the buses are.

    So many other things I could respond, but I’m with kclo3 on this.

  24. @kclo — I agree with you on South Coast Rail and BART extensions being wasteful, but I’m not 100 percent sure on the CTA Red Line Extension (which serves underserved areas of the South Side that could be done with a DMU on the rail line) and PATH (though on PATH to WTC, I’d argue 2nd Ave. Subway is a much better project, and should have a much, much higher priority than PATH as the Lex. Ave. Lines need relief, and East Harlem, the Bronx, and Lower East Side, and Metro North commuters) need stronger connections to the West Side and the Seaport District).

  25. The solution for the South Side is to just run the Metra Electric as the high-frequency, low fare line it once was. Legacy cities need to pay attention to the operating budget as much as, if not more than the capital budget. PATH-EWR as planned is a two-seat minimum ride to a destination already served by regional transit, with no infill stops for Newark, and atrocious cost figures. You’d have to dissolve the current PATH board for anything effective to ever come out of that agency.

  26. Transit advocates should be turning the agenda on its head.

    Instead of begging for crumbs and then bickering over who gets which crumb;

    Argue for full privatization of the interstates.

    This argument allies ourselves with republicans ( who btw have most legislative power in state houses & congress ) and banksters ( who see privatization as lush source of crony capitalist fees ) . Strange bedfellows for us, but we need to be shrewd and triangulate to win.

    as long as mass motoring is lavishly subsidized, transit will be the lonely stepchild. The moment subsidies stop, people will be screaming for transit. We’ll see ridership increase by double digits everywhere.

    Easiest method to eliminate subsidies is privatize interstates.

  27. In San Diego, the light rail lines have good connectivity to the rest of the transit network, enough so that I’ve never driven to use it. And while the sidewalks are nothing special, they’ve been adequate to meet my needs when using transit.

    And there are some similarities to Los Angeles in the sense that while each has a decent amount of transit service to/through the downtown area, job centers and destinations are more distributed and the transit usage reflects that. I.e., usage isn’t just mostly inbound to the downtown on weekdays AM and outbound weekdays PM. An element of the more traditional inbound AM/outbound PM holds a little more in Los Angeles than San Diego simply because there are a lot more jobs in DTLA than in downtown San Diego.

    The entire light rail network in San Diego is justifiable as far as basic areas served, especially the initial Blue Line segment from downtown to the border for which bus service instead of rail wouldn’t even be close to being adequate given ridership. But where the existing light rail network could be greatly strengthened is in allowing greater development near some of the stations. NIMBY opposition has blocked even modest increases in density near some stations, from existing one and two story structures to even to buildings that would only be 4 to 6 stories tall.

  28. Okay, I did not realize Metra was giving Roseland, etc. CTA rapid transit/bus prices for using the commuter rail. That’s basically like an express line at local subway prices. I had thought the South Side communities were paying commuter rail prices for rapid transit frequency.

    PATH is definitely among as crooked as they come.

  29. Better metric for what exactly? A ride can mean all sorts of trip speeds/times/distances. A passenger-mile is pretty normalized. NTD data tends to report city buses, suburban/commuter buses, light rail, rapid transit, commuter rail, and sometimes so-called bus rapid transit separately, so there would be little risk of conflating suburban behavior with urban transit users’ behavior. kclo3 is right that passenger-miles raise their own problems, especially on the revenue side, because passenger-miles aren’t billed consistently.

    You seem to be responding to me as if I was arguing that buses serve some subordinate purpose, or should not exist at all. I was just pointing out that the rail services localities have selected for themselves have tended to be cheaper to operate than the bus services, which is a sign of prudent financial decisionmaking. The fact that they did not tend to railstitute low-ridership bus routes seems similarly prudent to me, at least from the perspective of finances.

    Yes, I’m aware urban bus riders tend to be among the poorer people in society. So I guess there are a few ironic implications of rail scolding here: (1) it’s got to mean advocating for, at least in some cases, some of the poorer people in society to have some of the longest/most unhealthy commutes, (2) it’s at least sometimes costing society more in the long run to make #1 possible, and (3) at least in the case of the Manhattan Institute, we have a purportedly conservative (neofederalist?) organization advocating undermining local decisionmaking to potentially increase costs and reduce poor people’s time with their families.

  30. They ARE paying commuter prices, which is what needs to be changed ASAP. MED and the Rock Island carry very few passengers outside of rush hours these days whereas particularly MED was built to be an all day service. In the 50s midday trains on the So Chicago Branch ran every 20 minutes, and in general were faster to downtown by several minutes as well. The basic issue is getting Metra to honor CTA fares and run the trains more often rather than park most of them downtown 7+ hours doing nothing.

  31. Here’s my question: isn’t Metra Electric single-tracked on the Blue Island Branch with grade crossings on busy streets like Michigan Ave. and State St.? How would that play with Roseland residents respond to that? Granted, the University Park Branch looks double-tracked and with full ROW.

    How frequently and how late would the Metra Electric train run? Would it run on weekends as many low-income workers work irregular hours? In terms of operating costs, the Red Line, it would seem, would provide much better service quality to these South Side, low-income communities than Metra Electric, and would be more consistent with demand on the Red Line South Side (assuming the Red Line South Side needs demand) than on a commuter rail line.

  32. Distance as a metric does not have similar apples-apples distributions across transit modes, and doesn’t reflect the performance and usefulness of a mode to the rider compared to something like travel time. Actually normalizing for distance, like dividing by it, is probably a better metric. Purple City’s idea of distance-normalized ridership is worth considering.

  33. What do you think I did? I was referring to the totality of modal passenger-miles divided by the totality of modal unlinked trips to come up with an average distance per unlinked trip. I think that’s more normalized than your suggestion (“subsidy per ride”).

  34. First off, MED directly serves the South Shore neighborhood so having CTA fare level frequent service would be way better than Red Line + crosstown bus. Although the J14 brt lite bus works well in low traffic hours, if LSD is jammed, then it is much slower.
    Currently MED is vastly underused.
    Total ridership in 24 hrs at Bryn Mawr is less than those boarding a single rush hour train with me in the 60s when I lived there. When MED was the Illinois Central Electric, it ran until midnight 7 days on both the main and So Chgo lines. Blue Island was always the weaker market. As to service quality, if MED ran every 20 minutes to So Chgo, the main as far as Riverdale, restored the former Wildwood/130th Station along with service on the South Shore (including restoring the four stations closed in the early 60s) as far as Hegewisch, and ran Blue Island shuttles to 115th, essentially all of the Red Extension proposed stations would have service. Coordinating MED Blue Island trains to fill in time gaps between Rock Island departures would offer more choices for riders. The whole point here is to use tracks RTA already owns or has lease rights on because they already exist. Giving those users frequent rapid service both to downtown and destinations such as Hyde Park/Museum of Science & Industry, as well as all of the cross town buses which intersect MED at CTA fares opens up many more useful travel options. Applying the same fare integration to the Rock Island lines increases the convenience another level.

  35. Aaron Renn is a moron, who doesn’t even have the excuse of brain damage. I’ve been criticizing his stupid idea for decades, but he always doubles down on them and refuses to learn anything. Complete fool.

  36. SD light rail is very useful. There are a couple of places it needs to go which it doesn’t; the bus connections are poor. But they’re extending the San Diego light rail to the places they need to extend it to. Next stop UCSD. After that, Balboa Park.

  37. There are serious problems with Dallas’s LRT design (look at the land use around the stations… it was repeatedly run through the least walkable, lowest-density areas). But it’s still extremely popular and the city is slowly rebuilding itself around the DART lines… like cities do.

  38. Fair enough. If Dallas can actually attract development around LRT stations, then this investment could pay off big time in the long term. I think the problem has been that the trend toward denser development around the stations is very recent.

  39. FWIW, Houston is a better example of bad decision making (look at the routing and land use around their light rail, and cringe).

    I strongly agree with your idea of distributing money partly based on land use criteria.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


America’s “New” Rail Systems Are Showing Their Age

What should we make of the recent headline-grabbing service disruptions at Washington Metro and BART? This chart from Houston transit advocate Christof Spieler offers some important perspective. These transit systems are reaching the age where maintenance needs are increasingly urgent. Alex Block at City Block writes: BART, the snake digesting the mouse: Until seeing the data presented this way, I never appreciated how much of the […]

Visionary Transpo Bureaucrats, Part 3: Joe Calabrese and Ryan Gravel

This is the third part in Streetsblog’s series profiling 11 officials who are bringing American cities and towns into the 21st century when it comes to transportation and planning policy. Read the earlier profiles in part one and part two. Joe Calabrese General Manager, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority In 2007, Greater Cleveland’s Regional Transit Authority (RTA) […]

Looking Ahead to the Year in Transit Expansion

After significant transit construction in the United States in 2014, the next year will see another impressive round of groundbreakings and new openings. That’s according to Yonah Freemark at the Transport Politic, who has catalogued major transit expansion projects throughout the U.S. and Canada for the last six years. In 2015, we’ll see major light rail projects begin […]

Mixed Bag for Closely-Watched Local Transit Races

Last night delivered some good results — and some disappointment — for transit-related ballot initiatives around the country. The biggest disappointments came from Los Angeles, Memphis, and Houston. A measure to continue the half-cent sales tax for transit in Los Angeles County until 2069 was narrowly defeated, falling less than two percent short of the […]