U.S Light Rail & Tram news

Firstly a report from abc 15.com in Phoenix Arizona

http://www.abc15.com/dpp/traffic/record-light-rail-ridership-due-to-gas-price-hikes

Record light rail ridership due to gas price hikes?

Light rail ridership has hit a new record, at the same time as gas prices did the same. But Metro is being careful about drawing conclusions.

Nearly 1.2 million riders used the light rail in March, a month with a string of daily gas price hikes.Ai??

“You can’t even ask a friend to drive you somewhere because around the block costs $5,” says Sonya, a light rail rider.

On a day when some people were pumping gas at $3.67 a gallon, light rail riders were buying all-day passes good for both the rail and buses for only $3.50.

“I haven’t had a car for two years because of (gas prices),” says Rachelle, who was waiting for a light rail train on Central Avenue.

But Metro’s Hillary Foose cautions against drawing a direct connection between last month’s gas price hikes and the record light rail ridership.Ai??

“The rule of thumb for transit is that six months later we really start to see the effect of rising gas prices,” Foose says. “People start to think ‘Okay, yes, this is affecting my pocketbook. I need to figure out another way to get around.’”

Gas prices are expected to peak during the summer, with some analysts predicting they could hit $4.50 a gallon. Summer is when light rail ridership usually drops. We’ll be watching to see if that holds true this year.

to Santa Monica in California, from smmirror.com http://www.smmirror.com/?ajax#mode=single&view=32044

Thereai??i??s something about a trainai??i??

Richie Havens used to sing a little song underneath TV ads for Amtrak years ago, and the repeating chorus idea was ai???Thereai??i??s something about a trainai??i??ai??? which at that time might have engendered the response ai???Yes, itai??i??s slow and itai??i??s late.ai??? Still, compare safely rolling along on the earthai??i??s surface to the experience of suddenly having a hole appear in the roof of your 737 airliner that forces an unpleasant landing in Yuma.

There are other great things about trains, and I hope our city is ready to embrace and appreciate those things as Santa Monica moves closer to having an Expo light rail line. Last week as reported in the Mirror, the board of directors of the Expo Construction Authority approved a pair of agreements and signed off on a design-build contract, all actions moving us closer to having a train to our city.

Letai??i??s get up in the grill of one possible hang-up right now, and that is the notion that a light rail line will in any way solve or cure traffic problems. I can hear people dismissing this from across a busy street; a street jammed with traffic. There will of course be an impact on traffic, but what I think makes light rail imperative is that it works to ameliorate traffic by offering an alternative that makes affordable and practical sense. Government and voters need to embrace light rail at that level because, until they perfect that ai???Beam me up, Scottyai??? technology on ai???Star Trekai???ai??i?? itai??i??s what we have. A possible comparison might be someone saying, ai???No amount of recycling will stop the production of solid waste.ai??? What weai??i??ve done is to inculcate recycling to the point that it has become a cultural value; a good habit. And that matters.

Full disclosure: I like trains. Because of the distance involved in seeing my family, I donai??i??t get to ride them as often as Iai??i??d like. When I was a kid my father and I built model train layouts in the basement. My father drove our entire family from Milwaukee to Chicago one day because I had mentioned never riding on a subway or elevated train of the sort they have in the Windy City. My Dad was big on trains, and thought that our country was blowing it by neglecting its railway tracks because they might be desperately needed one day if America was attacked and needed the logistical help railroads offer. My sister is an advocate of a plan to move snowfall from states that have snow pack to states that suffer droughtsai??i?? by rail. Admittedly, she hasnai??i??t got all the kinks out but it makes for lively dinner conversations.

Trains are public and we are losing our public experiences as the country becomes more divided by economic class. While riding light rail, you can text or compute and not kill someone with your car. You might read a book or have a conversation with a stranger that leads to even a small but significant new understanding. You might look out the window and relax, which then leads to an epiphany that causes you to make up with your boyfriend or girlfriend. You might meet your new boyfriend or girlfriend on a train. You might have your fiancAi?? fall to his knees and present you with a ringai??i?? and then later give birth to the first child of your familyai??i??Okay, you get the idea. Trains are pleasant and good for us as a society.

Then there are the energy aspects, which are significant. Trains roll on steel wheels, and once you get them going they are thrifty on energy. If you drive a truck across the country, you would likely use three times the energy you would use if you loaded the trailer or container in your truck onto a train and sent it to the same destination. Light rail, heavy rail and commuter rail all carry thousands of daily commuters for a fraction of the energy it would take to move those same numbers by automobile. In cities with train transportation, shutting down even a portion of that system would create gridlock throughout the local road system. Or as we were arguing earlier, the building of rail systems at least works to relieve said gridlock.

The building of light rail systems also contributes to something of a public transportation renaissance. The auto industry moved to crush public transit in the late 40s and early 50s so that cars would become the preeminent means of transportation in America. Good for auto makers, tire makers, highway builders, and of course oil. Now that green is good, trains are back.

It always feels like we used to do a greater amount of sensible thinking and planning in our past, and not so much in our present and future. But supporting light rail into Santa Monica will demonstrate that we can look to tomorrow and plan just as we used to. Not that you need me to rub it in, but a greater number of citizens are getting older and they should have a way to get around that doesnai??i??t put bad eyesight and slow reaction times behind the wheel of a two-ton car. Instead of seeking the isolation of our individual autos on a jammed and ironically named ai???freeway,ai??? public transportation can remind us that weai??i??re a democracy that can interact and ride a train together. All aboard, Santa Monica.

Finally to San Diego and the North County Times http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/sdcounty/article_e2e212a9-67c5-55b2-a6e3-8cb64392141c.html

Ridership jumps for local public transit

Gas prices, fares seen as reasons for increase

As local gas prices top the $4 mark, North County’s public transit district is reporting a significant bump in ridership on its trains and buses, though officials say lower fares might be helping to fuel the trend.

Alex Wiggins, a spokesman for the North County Transit District, said Breeze buses tallied 157,336 boardings from March 27 through April 2, a 14 percent increase over the 137,694 boardings during the same week in 2010.

Coaster commuter and Sprinter light rail trains saw similar jumps.

In March, the Coaster had 120,044 boardings compared with only 105,565 in March 2010, a 13.7 percent increase. The Sprinter, which runs between Oceanside and Escondido, jumped from 170,006 in February 2010 to 179,667 in February 2011.

Wiggins said he suspects the jump can be attributed to “higher-than-usual gas prices for this time of year” and to fares that dropped on Jan. 20. Monthly passes for Coaster travel between Oceanside and Solana Beach dropped $34, from $154 to $120. Single-trip fares on local Breeze buses went from $2 to $1.75.

Still, longtime bus rider Brian Slaughter of Oceanside said Thursday that he thinks gas prices have been a bigger motivator in boosting ridership.

Sitting on a bench at the Oceanside Transit Center, Slaughter said he noticed an immediate increase in riders as soon as gas climbed past $4 per gallon. “You can see a direct correlation, absolutely.”

A MiraCosta College student, he said he was due to buy a car Friday, but would be likely to keep riding the bus with gas prices so high.

“I will probably minimize how much I use the car, and I’ll probably keep riding the (Route) 302 over to MiraCosta,” Slaughter said.

Rob Schupp, a spokesman for San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System, said that San Diego bus boardings jumped 7.6 percent in March, from 4.5 million to 4.86 million.

Schupp noted that it is no surprise that gas prices can serve as a kind of barometer for transit patronage. He noted that most transit systems in California set ridership records when prices spiked in 2008.

Recently, Schupp said, demand has driven MTS to add trips to the express bus service that it operates on Interstate 15. The Route 810 express service will add a 7 a.m. trip starting Monday and two afternoon trips at 3:20 p.m. and 4:50 p.m.

 

Ai??… Light Rail is good for you; especially when gas prices spike

Comments

One Response to “U.S Light Rail & Tram news”
  1. Pepen says:

    I love riding Swift! Having been a rguelar #100 rider (which Swift replaced a year ago), I was reticent about whether I’d like transit that stopped at every stop (“station” in BRT parlance) vs. having more potential stops, but not knowing which ones the bus would stop at. Since I rode in the early a.m., it could have gone either way, but I quickly preferred Swift. Due to the stations being rguelarly announced, I could rest my eyes en route without as much concern for missing my stop, and the stops – er, stations – having rguelar intervals felt like BART, Skytrain, and similar (trains), so long as the driver drove that way (vs. like a local transit bus, then my connections were iffy). Since bicycles load so much faster on Swift (no wheelchair passengers at that time of day yet), there has never been a concern about whether I would or would not make my transfer with Everett transfer, which was fairly tight. With the #100, waiting for a bicycle or two to be loaded equated to running for or even missing my Everett Transit transfer, the latter meaning traveling the remaining 1.5 miles on foot (in the dark)! With Swift, I even ended up taking a later bus to make the same transfer! My only beefs are minor, that the bus seats aren’t as comfortable as those on ST Express, and those at the stations get cold this time of year, being metal, that is when they’re not wet. I’m eagerly awaiting the new stations at 112th and Madison/Pecks. My impressions: a high-quality, reliable service (although the timing in the afternoons varies as much as 10 minutes), and I enjoy my commute more due to the train-like experience. Moreover, the interiors are bright due to having more windows. Fortunately, the buses usually aren’t so crowded yet that one doesn’t get a seat with nobody next to them, and I’ve never had to stand…except when I’m leaving the bus. I smile whenever I see the blue, green, and white bus on the horizon each afternoon after getting off my “ordinary” Everett Transit bus.