Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Light Rail Cheaper than Bus

Here’s some interest facts about light rail that may surprise you.

According to 2005 numbers in Calgary “with an average of 600 boarding passengers per operating hour the average cost per LRT passenger is only $0.27 ($0.23 USD). In comparison, the average cost for bus passenger boardings is approximately $1.50 ($1.28 USD) or almost 6 times the cost of carrying an LRT passenger.”

According to 2007 numbers in Portland, the operating cost of LRT is $1.48 USD per boarding rider compared to $2.66 USB for bus.

Now you may be saying buses are way cheaper to buy than setting up a light rail system. That is true, it does cost more to setup a light rail system (PS: about the same as a full-meal-deal bus rapid transit system), but it is an investment in the community and attracts: transit oriented development, developers paying for light rail, higher transit ridership, mode shift from cars, and helps build people friendly communities. Buses don't. Once a light rail line has been built, maintaining it is cheap as the operating costs show. The second capital cost is the purchase of vehicles. Buses are cheaper in the short term. A standard 60-foot articulated bus that can hold 105 passengers cost about $460,000 USD in Oregon State. Buses have a service life of about 10-15 year. The cost of a light rail vehicle that can hold 232 passengers cost $3,500,000 USD in Oregon State. Light rail vehicles have a service life of 30+ years. Over the long-term both light rail vehicles and buses cost about the same.

So really, why waste money on bus rapid transit when you can invest in light rail?

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