The phrase,'Unsound Transit', was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe Seattle where,"Light Rail Madness eats billions that could otherwise be devoted to truly efficient transportation technologies." The Puget Sound's traffic congestion is a growing cancer on the region's prosperity. This website, captures news and expert opinion about ways to address the crisis. This is not a blog, but a knowledge base, which collects the best articles and presents them in a searchable format. My goal is to arm residents with knowledge so they can champion fact-based, rather than emotional, solutions.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Portland Light Rail Ridership down; KC looks at alternatives

Group says light rail won’t work, period
By Gene Hanson
Thursday, January 31, 2008 4:18 AM CST
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A St. Louis-based public policy group is telling Kansas City to abandon its plans for light rail because it is too expensive and won’t work.

Randal O’Toole, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, who authored the study for the Show-Me Institute, said light rail did not trigger redevelopment of core downtown areas, and generally did not live up to its promises.

“It costs too much and does too little,” he said. “The only thing it is good at is spending money.”

He said if Kansas City passed a light rail tax it might get some federal funding.

“But there are about 30 cities asking for federal dollars, and Kansas City will have to get in line,” he said. “That may take about 29 years.”

Kansas City is proposing a light rail tax on the November ballot, and is also expected to put an extension of its current three-eights-cent sales tax for the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority’s bus service on the ballot in April.

Crosby Kemper III, executive director of the Show-Me Institute, said Kansas City needed to look at alternatives to light rail.

O’Toole has written articles and papers that have debunked light rail projects in other cities and claims light rail is not a good fit anywhere. He mentioned specifically St. Louis, Dallas and Portland, Ore. He said ridership on light rail in Portland had declined.

But the Center for New Urbanism said the Portland public usage of light rail had risen from 40 million passenger trips to 104.5 million passenger trips annually.

“There are 33 cities in the country that either have, or are planning for a light rail system,” said Kansas City Councilman Ed Ford, who heads the council’s transportation and infrastructure committee. “I think that sends a message.”

He said if you viewed light rail as just transportation, it’s expensive, but if you viewed it as a tool for economic development and you did it right, it had benefits.

But O’Toole said the factor that seemed to have the greatest influence on transit commuting was the concentration of jobs in a central transit hub. Unlike some other large cities, he said Kansas City has only about 50,000 jobs in its central business district, less than 7 percent of the jobs in the metropolitan area. This, he said, suggests that Kansas City is a poor candidate for rail transit.

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