Rail Transit Boondoggles

Everybody loves a train, but no one loves higher taxes. The problem with trains is their high cost and inflexibility: In most cities, buses can do everything trains can do but faster, safer, more flexibly, and at a far lower cost. ADC helps its members oppose rail transit boondoggles with the following publications, PowerPoint shows, and other tools.

Rail transit will be a major issue at the 2013 Preserving the American Dream conference. Conference goers will hear the latest research and techniques used by people all over the country to save taxpayers’ money by stopping rail projects.


This video put together by ADC associate member Cascade Policy Institute illustrates just how wasteful rail transit really is.

Click images to download publications.

Defining Success reviews almost every rail transit system in the United States and shows that, no matter how you measure it, rail transit has failed to proof its worth in cities across the country.
Paint Is Cheaper than Rails takes its name from a speech given by Federal Transit Administration administrator Peter Rogoff, who noted that “you can entice even diehard rail riders onto a bus, if you call it a ‘special’ bus and just paint it a different color than the rest of the fleet.” This paper reviews rail transit plans all over the country and shows that they are not cost-effective at solving problems and in many cases make congestion and air pollution worse.
Does Rail Transit Save Energy or Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions? Rail transit is often sold to the public as being environmentally superior to driving. But this paper shows that most rail lines use as much or more energy and release as much or more greenhouse gases, per passenger mile, as cars.
Rails Won’t Save America provides a brief summary of the arguments against rail transit and high-speed rail. With plenty of charts, this is the perfect thing to give people who don’t have time to read longer papers.
Light Rail in St. Petersburg is a 78-MB PowerPoint show that critiques the idea of light rail.
This 17-MB PowerPoint show reveals that a planned elevated rail line in Honolulu will cost more than $5 billion, obscure scenic views, and fail to solve any transportation problems except the problem of how to waste federal dollars.
Does Rail Transit Save Energy? This 13-MB PowerPoint show, which goes with the above publication with a similar title, indicates that cars and light trucks are getting more energy efficient while transit buses and trains are getting less energy efficient.

More information about rail transit and transit in general:

Transit Myths
Rail Myths
Rails vs. Bus Transit
Transit References and Experts