Thursday, September 2, 2010
Light Rail: Is It Worth the Effort?
Some of the primary benefits of light rail and public transportation in general are reducing the number vehicles on the streets and highways, abating the amount of vehicular smog, providing economic benefits to riders commuting to jobs, and giving lower income classes a reasonable means of transportation at a low cost.
The arguments against light rail include the high cost of constructing the lines, few people using the trains, disruption to communities where the train lines are put into place, and massive delays that can occur if equipment breaks down or is involved in an accident.
An MTA official told me that the trains could perhaps never be self-sustaining based on current fare structures and fares would have to be increased substantially for this to be so, thus defeating the economy of riding the trains and discouraging use. Currently the light rail systems must be subsidized by local tax dollars and federal and state funds. One must question the wisdom and fairness of this.
Is light rail worth the effort and expense?
What is your opinion of light rail and public transportation in general being funded by our tax dollars? Do you use public transportation? Would you continue to use it if fares were raised substantially in order to pay for the actual operating costs? How do we get people out of their cars and onto public transportation? Which would be more effective--incentives or punitive measures? And what would some of those be? What do you think is the future of transportation in the community where you live?