Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Defying Predictions from Ardent Highway Lobby, Rail Ridership Continues to Grow on New Systems

Patrons line up to ride The Tide in Norfolk, VA.
Anti-mass-transit activists keep beating their anti-rail drums (see numerous posts at our “aggregation site” under the Slater and Prevedouros headings, linked from red copy at right), but the experience of new rail systems shows how readily commuters embrace the rail option.

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:

“It takes Bobby Parks an extra 20 minutes to commute to work and an extra $50 for a monthly pass to ride The Tide. Still, he’s hooked. ’To me, not having to drive (interstate) 284 is worth it,’ he said. ‘It makes me cringe with the potholes and bumps…. Light rail is less stressful and, with traffic, it’s more consistent.'”

Fast and Reliable
Mr. Parks avoids the traffic hassle completely during his Tide ride and even is willing to go out of his way to take the train. Avoiding congestion is one reason why tens of thousands of Oahu residents are expected to choose Honolulu rail over the tedium of driving on the H-1 and surface roads that parallel the freeway.

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.

1 comment:

arbormed said...

Why not put links so we can post to Google+, Twitter and Facebook?