The nation’s newest system in Norfolk, VA, began passenger service in August, and as these systems go, The Tide is small – just 7 miles long – and relatively slow due to its at-grade layout.
According to the local newspaper, The Tide’s daily ridership during its first month was 74 percent above expectations. Some rode out of curiosity – it’s “too convenient not to try” – but others already have incorporated rail transit into their daily commute. From the Virginian-Pilot:
Unlike The Tide’s relatively pokey at-grade pace, trains on Honolulu's system will exceed 55 mph between some of stations, so in addition to avoiding congestion, rail will deliver passengers reliably faster than other forms of transportation.
Reducing congestion-caused stress will be reason enough to ride for many future Honolulu rail passengers. Others will compare the per-mile cost of commuting by car – around $1 on Oahu at current gas prices – and conclude they can save thousands of dollars annually if they switch their commute to the train.
The Virginian-Pilot story and a similar posting by Metro Jacksonville summarize ridership increases by new rail systems in Phoenix, Charlotte, NC, Houston and Seattle. Honolulu likely will join that list once our rail system is up and running.