« new comment policy | Main | dogs on the metro »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

dan reed

Whoa! I'm very honored to be mentioned on a blog that's quickly become one of my favorite resources for understanding transit planning. Your writing on West Coast cities (Portland, San Francisco, Seattle) was especially helpful as I went on the same trip that took me on Metro Rapid in Los Angeles as well.


Dan Reed


I don't know, I'm not such a big fan of the Metro Rapid on Wilshire. If you divide out the number Dan provides, you'll find that during rush hour, the bus runs at the astounding speed of 11.2 mph! Most people could bike faster. The Red Line, meanwhile, manages an average speed of 35 mph, which is 3 times faster, and competitive with cars even outside of rush hour. On the other hand, Metro Rapid is perfect for routes like the 780 (Hollywood-Pasadena), which don't and won't have the demand for a subway, but are quite long with a enough people riding long distances that the Rapid is worth it (and it's a definite improvement to have an 7 day service versus the rush hour only 380).

"Basically, any city that’s building a light rail or subway line and not dramatically increasing the zoning around it is throwing money away."

Point taken, but the author's use of NYC's Second Avenue subway as a counter-example is a bit odd. This line perhaps more than any other recent American example demonstrates that sometimes lines really are built just because the demand is already there. Not to say that the line will be "profitable" in any way, but he's giving the impression that the line isn't worth it.

Alon Levy

The author's point that $5 billion is too high a cost for SAS is well-taken.

However, SAS is different from other US rail projects, for several reasons.

1. It relieves the only line in the US that's legitimately over capacity.

2. It improves east-west connectivity. The direct service from Second Avenue to Times Square is underrated.

3. The blocks abutting Second Avenue on the Upper East Side have the highest population density in the developed world excluding slums in Hong Kong; the upzoning is already there.

4. There actually are choice riders in the area, who take taxis or avoid taking trips because of the poor east-west connectivity and the crowding on the 4/5/6.

Peter Christensen

Thanks Jarrett for the link! A couple of responses:

About the "throwing money away" - I meant the money spent building the light rail. If you're only going to provide a given level of service because demand is low, then you would spend your money much better building a decent bus system with signal priority, pay-at-the-platform, etc. That's a different issue from leaving money on the table, which is what they're doing by not greatly increasing density around stops.

rhywun - sure the demand is there for the 2nd Ave Subway, but for cash-strapped governments and transit agencies to put out that level of investment, they should hope to leverage that into investment in new development. I'm not saying it's not worth it, but the difficulty in changing development patterns means there's no way for the market to respond to a massive increase in transit capacity.


Well, chances are good that rents will skyrocket in that area when it's done. Which eventually equals more tax dollars - same result.

The comments to this entry are closed.

the firm

Jarrett is now in ...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...