Great rail disasters: the impact of rail transit upon urban livability

This paper grades rail transit in twenty-three urban areas on thirteen different criteria. The results show that rail transit has negative net impacts on every urban area in which it is located. In particular, rail transit offers no guarantee that transit commuting will increase or that transit will increase its share of travel. As a result, rail transit is strongly associated with increased congestion. Sixteen of the twenty regions with the fastest growing congestion are rail regions. Nor is rail transit environmentally friendly. Sixty percent of rail transit systems consume more energy per passenger mile than private cars and the congestion created by rail transit adds to air pollution. Rail transit, especially light rail and commuter rail, can also be deadly. Commuter-rail lines kill more than twice as many people, per billion passenger miles, as buses or urban interstate freeways, while light rail kills three times as many. This paper also profiles transit in each of the major urban areas that have rail transit. The profiles detail transit trends and compare rail line productivity with the productivity of freeway lanes in the same urban areas. The results show that few rail lines carry as many people as a single freeway lane.


  • English

Media Info

  • Pagination: 45p
  • Serial:
    • Issue Number: 1-2004

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01389910
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: ARRB
  • Files: ITRD, ATRI
  • Created Date: Aug 23 2012 3:48AM