Monday, November 10, 2008

Public Transit USA

It’s been a good November for Light Rail and public transit in the USA. With the economic slow down, congestion, and environmental issues fresh on people’s minds, now more than ever they saw the need for improved public transit. There is a website called the Center for Transportation Excellence that claims to be “a non-partisan policy research center created to serve the needs of communities and transportation organizations nationwide. The purpose of the center and this website is to provide research materials, strategies and other forms of support on the benefits of public transportation.” They track spending and ballot measures on public transit. Out of the 32 public transportation measures that were on the ballet, 24 passed; that’s pretty impressive. Check out their website to see the full list of public transportation projects that passed.

I think one of the most interesting stories about public transit comes from Seattle. This time last year, voters were asked if they would support a highway and public transit expansion measure. They voted no. Sound Transit resubmitted the public transit expansion part of the measure for this year, and of course it passed. It’s interesting to see that in Seattle people are seeing the value in a quality public transit system. Seattle will now be getting more light rail, more streetcar cars, more commuter rail, and more express buses.

Click to expand map

I wonder what would happen if we were allowed to vote for light rail and public transit expansion in BC? Would we be getting light rail?

1 comment:

Light Rail Guy said...

Seattle's LRT, is light rail in name only, rather it can be called a light metro. Like SkyTrain, Seattle's 'rail' system has miles and miles of viaduct and more miles of expensive subway tunnels. The only area where one could call light rail is the few on-street sections, built predominately in non-white areas along the route!

sadly, Seattle's light-metro has fell afoul of the North American transit theory that 'rail' transit must be elevated or built in subways so as not to conflict with cars on streets!

Seattle's streetcar is a wee 1.5 mile system, that uses the Skoda 'convertible' light rail vehicle, which has found popularity in several US cities, such as Portland and Tacoma.

Don't hold your breathe as this vote could be overturned next year, just as the monorail vote was overturned after 3 tries. What will happen is Seattle's planners penchant for subways will drive the cost of 'rail' transit to such a point that the taxpayer will reject it out of hand.

What is of interest is the east-side rail line running from Belvue, North past Woodinville which has a lot in com mom with the present Southern RR of BC/interurban line. The disused rail;way right of way would be a natural for diesel LRT but the powers that be, refuse to plan for cheaper, real LRT solutions.

with Seattle, until the first rail is laid, much can happen to overturn the recent election results.