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Portland is a PR machine for light rail & streetcar

Here are Some Facts About Portland Oregon          

“It must always be remembered how cost-effectiveness works in the public sector: the cost IS the benefit.” - author unknown

False Promises: Light Rail Reduces Congestion

Does Rail Reduce Congestion-1?

From the Oregonian  october 29, 1998 (just after the Westside line opened):

The debate about ridership on westside l ight rail and its effect on traffic continued Wednesday, with Tri-Met saying it has attracted 1,773 new bus and rail riders in the westside corridor

Tri-Met based its number on a count of buu riders between 6 and 9 a.m. on an average of five mornings in October 1997 compared with a similar count of bus and rail riders this month in the same corridor. The agencys transportation consultants counted 3,642 riders both directions in October 1997 and 5,415 this month.

Analysis: This is a real count, not a projection and is from the transit agency itself!

Ridership went from 3,642 to 5,415 an increase of 1773. Of the 5,415 total transit users, 3,642 (67%) were previous transit users and 1773 (33%) were not. Typically light rail lines have more riders in the first month due to the hoopla surrounding their opening and before some riders realize that, for them, the rail is actually worse than the bus that it replaced, so this number of new riders is probably an ABSOLUTE MAXIMUM.


Does Rail Reduce Congestion-2 ?

A Trimet FactSheet (year 2006, 8 years after the Westside line opened) claims that:

Logical Conclusion:


Does Rail Reduce Congestion-3?

The Portland/Vancouver I-5 Transportation and Trade Partnership used 18% and 31% as the percentage of rail riders that would be in cars if light rail wasn't built. See here for the method used.


The above two methods produce answers consistent with the Portland/Vancouver I-5 Transportation and Trade Partnership and we can be fairly confident that Portland's MAX only removes less than 1/3 of one lane worth of traffic from a three lane freeway. LRT costs about 10-19 as much as freways for the same capacity.


PDF of this page      From www.PortlandFacts.com