Mass Transit Boom

Do new systems boost ridership, relieve congestion?

  • By:Thomas J. Billitteri
  • Content Type: Report
  • Publisher: CQ Press
    • Publication year: 2008
    • Online pub date:
  • DOI:


Pressed by rising gas prices, highway gridlock and global-warming concerns, cities are spending unprecedented amounts on public transit systems — from streetcars and other "light-rail" lines to commuter trains and rapid-transit buses. They also are experimenting with "congestion-pricing" plans that impose tolls on motorists to induce them to use transit or alter driving habits. While traffic congestion is partly behind the transit boom, it is not the only force driving it. Some light-rail projects are built hand-in-hand with "transit-oriented developments" — walkable, mixed-use projects designed to attract residents, shoppers and office workers to urban neighborhoods. Cities from Portland, Ore., to Charlotte, N.C., have embraced rail projects, but critics argue that such ventures aren't boosting ridership or reducing traffic. Some worry, too, that they benefit the ...

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