Friday, June 5, 2009

The Columbian Weighs in on Light Rail

The Columbian has an editorial today about the possibility of light rail connecting Clark County to Portland. While they don't outright endorse the idea, the encourage citizens to look at the facts and evaluate the benefits and cost of light rail in Portland and Seattle (opening soon of course).

From the article:

Rather than building their arguments on emotions, both sides in the light-rail debate would be better served by focusing on statistics.

Light-rail proponents likely will point to ridership numbers, convenient service and commute times.

For example, Seattle's Link light rail line will run 20 hours a day with trains arriving every 7½ minutes during peak periods and every 10-15 minutes at other times. In Portland, TriMet boasts on its Web site that the Green Line "will carry riders from Clackamas Town Center to Portland City Center in 39 minutes."

On the other hand, light-rail critics can be expected to build their case on light rail's huge construction, operation and maintenance costs. That $2.3 billion in Seattle and that $575 million in Portland could buy a lot of city buses. It could build a lot of freeway miles.

Another point of contention is the future of light rail. Its supporters believe we are on the cutting edge, and Portland and Seattle are getting a head start as American cities prepare for fewer solo motorists and the broad growth of mass transit. But light-rail critics argue that the vast majority of motorists want to keep their cars and should not be forced out of them by costly decisions of local governments.

A couple of quick thoughts:
By building light rail people aren't forced out of their cars, they are simply getting more choices besides driving alone.

Its been a long time since I've heard someone say Seattle say a head start compared to other major cities when it comes to cutting edge transportation.

The Columbian also has a story about tolling scenarios for the new bridge. They are debating whether they should just toll I-5 or toll the I-5 and I-205 bridges...sound familiar?

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