This paper explains the costs of operating light rail lines, and it explains how light rail can be more economical than other modes under certain conditions. Using 3 recent studies of proposed light rail lines as examples, the paper shows that new lines can be economically constructed and operated with a potential ridership of as little as 20,000 daily passengers. The self-service fare systems used on European light rail lines is explained, and an opinion is given recommending that such a system could be implemented on new light rail lines built in the United States. Relatively fixed maintenance costs, high passenger-to- operator ratios, and multiple-unit capabilities make traffic increases on light rail lines much more economical to accommodate than on bus lines. The paper details how light rail lines have high passenger carrying capabilities (as much as 20,000 passengers/h) yet need relatively low passenger loads (only 20,000 passengers/day) to economically justify implementation and still have sufficient revenue to cover all operating costs. Also discussed are the ease of implementation, the versatility of the mode, and passenger acceptance and preference.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This article is extracted from Light Rail Transit, Proceedings of a National Conference conducted by TRB and Sponsored by UMTA, Am Public Transit Assoc and U Penn, 23-25 June 1975. Payment in advance is requested. For handling charges add 5% for domestic and 10% for foreign orders.Distribution, posting, or copying of this PDF is strictly prohibited without written permission of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials in this PDF are copyrighted by the National Academy of Sciences. Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board (TRB)

    Washington, DC   
  • Authors:
    • DeGraw, Ronald
  • Conference:
  • Publication Date: 1975

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: pp 122-125
  • Monograph Title: Light rail transit
  • Serial:

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00129819
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Apr 21 1981 12:00AM