Rail ridership exceeds expectations, study says

Posted on July 8, 2003

A study of rail-based public transit systems in nine U.S. cities found that ridership surpassed expectations in nearly every case and that rail systems boosted redevelopment around transit stations. The new report, "Rail Transit Works: Light Rail Success Stories from Across the Country," conducted by the MaryPIRG Foundation, analyzes the popularity of transit systems in six states and Washington, D.C. Among the findings:

  • Ridership was 40% higher than projected after a recent light rail expansion in Denver.
  • Ridership in the first year of rail service in St. Louis was 3.5 times higher than expected.
  • Salt Lake City's system is transporting 50% more riders than anticipated. "Rail is clearly the way to go, judging from the experiences of cities that have gone before us," said Brad Heavner, executive director of the foundation. The report also found that people traveling via rail are not simply people who switched from buses when rail became available, according to surveys of rail passengers in three cities. Nearly 50% of rail passengers in Los Angeles had a car available for the trip on which they were surveyed. In Denver, 75% of passengers had access to a car but chose rail instead. In Dallas, 59% of passengers that own cars would have driven alone if light rail were not available. For more information on the study visit, www.marypirg.org
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