We literally laughed out loud when we saw that Denver was hosting the Rail-Volution Conference where attendees can “learn to effectively promote, plan, and implement transit development projects.” We caution the conference attendees – do not learn from our light rail system, which has been quagmired by technical issues and funding (where’s that line to Longmont, again?) issues.
While a Denver Post editorial encourages readers to look at the larger picture of RTD’s successes, it acknowledges that light rail has not been an overwhelming success. Here is the Post’s parting shot:
“We hope RTD, community and state leaders come away from Rail-Volution with a plan to ensure the FasTracks system becomes a self-sustaining operation that carries its own weight both financially and in helping the regions transportation nightmare.
“The infrastructure is here, taxpayers are invested, and now all that’s needed is a flood of riders willing to pay a premium for the service.”
We can’t decide if the writer was being ironic or literally thinks there might be riders, other than little kids, who might pay a premium to ride on a train. If serious, it’s worth reading Reason’s “Myths of Light Rail Transit” that debunks many of the claims that supporters of light rail make. Here are just a few busted myths:
- Light rail will not decongest roads, it simply takes riders from buses (which in another myth bust are actually more efficient than light rail)
- Light rail is not more cost effective than buses (which, by the way, are regularly empty in Denver)
- Light rail imposes heavy costs on low-income people (a fact that the Post rightly pointed out)
Light rail might look shiny and exciting and, perhaps, government officials equate the arrival of light rail with the “arrival” of Denver as a “real” city, but light rail has been a disappointment to many in Colorado.