On June 22, 2005, the American Dream Coalition is joining with several associated groups in releasing a new report on rail transit. Rail Disasters 2005 (2.5MB) examines two decades worth of ridership data in nearly every U.S. urban area with rail transit and finds that ridership has declined or stagnated in nearly two out of three of them. Ridership or passenger miles have travel have kept up with driving in only three out of twenty-three rail urban areas.
By contrast, the report identifies numerous urban areas with bus-only transit whose transit ridershp has grown far faster than driving, including Austin, Las Vegas, and Raleigh-Durham. Based on this and other information, the report concludes that cities and regions that want to boost transit ridership are better off improving their bus systems than building expensive rail lines.
The report is an update to Great Rail Disasters (500 KB), which was published last year by the Center for the American Dream and several other groups. That report found that rail transit imposed higher taxes, more congestion, more air pollution, and less livability on the regions that had it.
The 2005 report is also available in print-quality (6.5 MB) version. People with dial-up connections may want to download a low-resolution (800 KB) versions, but unfortunately many of the charts appear fuzzy in this version.
Brief summaries of the report can be found in a press release and op ed. Contact the author if you would like an op ed customized for your hometown.
Most of the background data used to prepare the Rail Disasters 2005 report are in two Excel workbooks: Raildata82-05 (which is updated through 2005) and the APTA Factbook. An explanation for these spreadsheets and the sources used for them is in RD2005data.
A fully narrated, 25-minute PowerPoint show about Rail Disasters 2005 is available on a CD from the American Dream Coalition for $10. To order, go to the Coalition's order page.
Questions about the report should be directed to its author, Randal O'Toole, an economist with the American Dream Coalition. Mr. O'Toole is also the author of The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths.