Rail disasters 2005: the impact of rail transit on transit ridership: an update to ‘Great rail disasters’

This paper reviews ridership and other transit data published by the Federal Transit Administration and the American Public Transportation Association to determine the long-term effects of rail transit on transit ridership. Rail transit is promoted as a way to reduce congestion and air pollution. But it cannot do these things if rail construction causes or is accompanied by declines in overall transit ridership, or if it slows the growth in transit ridership to less than it was with a bus-only transit system. A close review of individual cases reveals that the high cost of rail transit is often the cause of declining or slower growing transit ridership. Transit agencies often cannot afford to pay for rail’s high construction costs, or to pay off the debt incurred in rail construction, without raising fares or cutting back on bus services. In the past decade, transit ridership has grown at less than 1 percent per year, while transit subsidies have grown by nearly 4.5 percent per year. Moreover, rail transit poses a serious equity problem: While rail lines are seen as a way of getting middle-class suburbanites out of their cars, to build them many regions have sacrificed service to low-income, inner-city neighborhoods.


  • English

Media Info

  • Pagination: 27p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01389893
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: ARRB
  • Files: ITRD, ATRI
  • Created Date: Aug 23 2012 3:47AM