Greater Greater Washington

Transit


BeyondDC's map

Continuing the trend of transit expansion maps like mine and Track Twenty-Nine's, Dan of BeyondDC has a transit vision. He won't call it a "fantasy map" because this is no fantasy: by building only half the Silver Line and using the money for more streetcars, the construction cost ought to be little more than what has been seriously proposed in recent years.

That Metro-versus-streetcar funding debate turned into a fascinating debate on Ryan Avent's blog. On the one hand, we can build eight streetcar lines for the cost of one Metrorail line. On the other hand, as Ryan writes, "There is more to these choices than just cost per person per mile. The density and capacity that can be supported by a Metro station significantly increases the value of surrounding property."

I think they're both right; streetcars are generally the best bang for the limited buck today, but we also need to think big. It's ridiculous that governments are fighting over scraps of federal money while we keep building expensive highways (not to mention wars). Streetcars versus Metro? BRT versus light rail? FTA formulas? We know that transit drives economic growth and higher land values in the long run. With apologies to the military and schools, perhaps one day transit will have all the money it needs while the road builders have to hold a bake sale to buy an off-ramp.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

Comments

Unfortunately, some light rail is quite good, and some is almost useless. Often even on the same line. The VTA (Silicon Valley) has some light rail that's pretty useful. There's also some light rail that takes so long to get anywhere it doesn't make sense.

Often, what gets built is of the "doesn't make sense" variety, because our model for getting funding for these projects encourages everyone to lie about how useful they will actually be and how much they will get used.

by David desJardins on Mar 26, 2008 3:05 pm • linkreport

I think light rail should only be used to connect close together heavy rail lines. The purple line is the perfect example of this. D.C. streetcars are also a perfect example of this. People will take metro as far as possible before switching to the streetcars in D.C. or purple line in Md.

by Anonymous on Jan 13, 2011 6:24 pm • linkreport

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