Portland is a PR machine for light rail & streetcar
Here are Some Facts About Portland Oregon
But that is comparing a rail line full of transit vehicles to a freeway full of cars.
Lets look at apples to apples: A track of transit vehicles vs a freeway lane of transit
That is one bus every 20 seconds - a fraction of one lane of a freeway carries the
same number of people as the claimed light rail maximum, leaving the freeway lane
open for traffic most of the time. There probably is room for 1400 cars per hour
plus the buses.
Now lets assume that you can run one bus every 4 seconds:
The reality is that light rail does not even come close to one lane of a freeway
- it is actually less than 1/5 of one lane of freeway when comparing "apples to apples".
Lets look at the rough costs for the project described in the article (using what
little costs they have released):
Once again, light rail costs too much, does too little.
A recent " Guest Opinion" in the Portland Tribune contained the following claim:
Here is a comment on that article by Randal O'Toole posted on his blog, the The Antiplanner:
The numbers in the Tribune article are wrong. Running a train every two minutes would
require installation of expensive signaling equipment — I know of no light-rail system
that has such equipment — and probably would not be possible in downtown streets
in any case.
A ten-lane freeway can move 10,000 vehicles per hour in each direction. Since the
article writer generously assumes full light-rail trains, we can assume full autos
with at least 4 people per car. That’s 40,000 people in each direction, or more than
four times as many as ride the light rail.
Then there is the question of whether cities like Portland could ever find 9,000
people who would want to ride light rail in any given hour. And even if they could,
would the trains be empty the rest of the day? (Remember, the average light-rail
train in Portland has only about 50 people, not the 300 assumed in the example.)
False Claim: Light Rail Carries As Many People as a Ten Lane Freeway
9000 people/hr / 51 people per BUS* = 176.5 buses per hour
176.5 buses/hr / 60 min/hr = 2.94 buses per min
15 x 51 x 60 = 45,900 people/hr.
Cost of rail pair: up to $2 billion
Cost of 5 lane pairs or freeway: about $4 billion with ramps (50-50 between bridge
Cost of one lane pair: 1/5 of $4 billion = $800 million
Cost of 1/5 of one lane: 1/5 of $800 million = $160 mil - the approx cost of the
road space taken up by the bus
The freeway is 1/12 the cost of rail for the same number of people. (160 Million
/ 2 Billion = 1/12.5 )