One of the biggest benefits to LRT operations, particularly compared to
“heavy rail” services, is the lower cost of building and operating/maintaining such systems.
Still, even though heavy rail services are more expensive (such as
what is offered by NJ Transit and Sound Tranist) to operate many of
these trains continue to be full, or nearly full, and are becoming
increasingly popular for commuters heading too and from work as gas
prices rise. And, likewise, over and over it is proven that if the
service is offered, the passengers will come. For instance, ridership
projections for new trains, whether they be LRT, commuter rail, or
long-distance operations continually prove to be too low. Two of the most proactive states regarding passenger and
commuter rail services include North Carolina and California. Both are
doing a magnificent job
developing passenger rail corridors in their respective states,
particularly North Carolina.
If you are interested in seeing how a
passenger rail network should be properly implemented, planned, and
carried out have a look at what the Tarheel State is doing. For instance, the three graphs you see here (information courtesy of the American Public Transportation Association or APTA), illustrate that commuter rail and LRT (as well as intercity services offered by Amtrak) are increasingly
being used by the public. The numbers reflect the total usage of
commuter, light, and heavy rail in millions, dating to
1984. If you would like to see numbers dating back as far as 1907 please click here to visit APTA's 1999 Annual Transit Fact Book. When viewing this report the streetcar/interurban systems were listed under "Light Rail." Note how heavily these services were once used! In 2013 APTA began listing streetcars as a separate mode due to their popularity.
|Sounder train #1513 arrives at the station in Auburn, Washington led by F59PHI #901 on September 2, 2010.|
It seems, once again, the old adage of things coming full circle applies to rail transit as well. However, the current streetcar numbers are only
a tiny fraction from the early 20th century when folks regularly used such transportation in cities and towns both large and small (this largely due to the lack of systems currently in service nationwide). Interestingly, if you
notice, some of the largest gains in all
types of rail transit has occurred since the 2000s. These gains can be
partly attributed to the fact that since then more monies have been
spent at the state and federal levels to expand commuter rail and LRT. As states continue spending to upgrade their rail transit infrastructure ridership numbers will almost surely continue going up throughout the future. Aside from California and North Carolina, Florida as well as Washington are two other states heavily subsidizing rail tranist. In any event, below you can find more information about many of the
current commuter and light rail operations around the country:
Altamont Corridor Express
Long Island Rail Road
Shore Line East
For an idea of just how many new commuter rail and LRT projects are either in the works or under way please visit this page at Light Rail Now!,
the premier resource on the web covering commuter operations and light rail
transit. Also, for full data and statistics regarding not only light
rail and commuter rail operations but also all modes of public
transportation please visit the American Public Transportation Assocation's (APTA) website.
There you can also learn about the latest news, happenings, and other
goings on regarding the subject. A final resource worth mentioning is
the Bureau of Transportation Statistic's website which provides additional resources highlighting rail transit.
|A Metrolink commuter run stops briefly at Burbank, California led by F59PHI #910 as it heads for Los Angeles on August 2, 2007.|