So many urban rail projects — maybe this suggests success?

[Map: The Transport Politic]

by Lyndon Henry

Adversaries and critics of urban and regional rail projects often try to portray each new-start rail project in each city as some kind of an “outlier”, an isolated case of presumable folly that has failed almost everywhere. But factual evidence has a way of trumping deceptive propaganda.

The map above, from The Transport Politic blog this past January, illustrates the reality — a veritable avalanche of new urban and regional rail starts across the USA and Canada. Dozens of rail projects (and a few “bus rapid transit”) are listed in the article, tallying projects launching in 2013 or already under way, totaling over $64.3 billion in investment, with opening dates as far out as 2020.

This gives rail supporters a strong argument: Why would so many cities be launching new projects, and extending their existing systems, if rail were such a failure? On the contrary, it’s overwhelmingly more plausible to figure that it’s rail’s tremendous success that’s driving this huge expansion of rail transit — even in the face of Washington’s absurd, self-imposed, and recurrent budgetary crises.

City after city is finding that rail has expedited urban mobility, boosted transit performance (e.g., ridership, economic indicators, environmental factors), and bolstered the economy and livability of their communities.

Bottom line: Urban rail by and large is a huge success, and more and more cities are going for it. Let us help get your own city on board.

Yonah Freemark’s original article in The Transport Politic has links to virtually every project — well worth checking out:
Openings and Construction Starts Planned for 2013

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