Rail: The Transportation Cannibal

Rail: The Transportation Cannibal

The SMART train here in Marin and Sonoma are not the only areas to see the building of a billion dollar train line as the solution to the areas transit needs – Houston has it’s Metro, Portland has it’s MAX light rail, and Anaheim is spending $318m for a trolley that goes a mere 3.2 miles – trains seem to be the new obsession and solution to all of our transit woes. But an analysis of the actual impact rail has had in historic case studies exposes that rail is far from the solution – and the famous Einstein quote becomes apropo: Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results Planning for Reality would like to thank Thomas Rubin for his expert insight – this article is based on his detailed analysis of rail case studies – and he is owed all credit. Rail: The Transportation Cannibal The problem with rail projects is that they have a disturbing history of causing transit agencies to eat their young – meaning that they cannibalize other far more cost effective projects capable of increasing ridership, decreasing emissions and not needlessly adding to sales or property taxes.   This is the story of Los Angeles, where the existing transportation system is in jeopardy as it is in the process of being replaced by rail. This is in area where the author, Thomas Rubin, has considerable expertize as he was the former Chief Financial Officer of Southern California Rapid Transit District from 1989 to 1993, when it was absorbed into what is now the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. After he...