Declining rail ridership means higher costs and fewer buses

Tory Gattis,  notes on the Houston Strategies Blog, that the extension of rail service in Houston could cause us to meet the same fate as other metro areas; more rail, less buses, higher taxes, and less mobility for those that really need it.

He discusses a new study released by the Coalition on Sustainable Transportation that recounts the real world results of expanding rail transit systems.

One may look at the data in the table above in many ways, but, none of the conclusions seem to be positive for rail transit. Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin are all among the top 20 fastest growing major cities in the nation. However, the three cities with various levels of rail transit, Dallas, Houston and Austin, all have declining transit ridership trends and have fewer absolute transit riders today than they had a dozen years ago. They have spent billions to implement and promote transit with a heavy focus on rail transit.

I’m for fewer cars on the roads, less pollution, less traffic gridlock, and more productivity and I’ve always thought rail made sense. But after looking at this report it seems to me that more rail (none of which is to be built in southwest Houston) would possibly mean less conventional transit (buses) while our community tax dollars are diverted to pay debt service for lines that don’t serve us. I have an open mind but his bears further scrutiny. Comments welcome.

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