Car Congestion Increases With Light Rail

The Rail proponents asking for a quadrupled transit budget and the highest sales tax in the state say their train will decrease congestion. Not so.

The Rail proponents asking for a quadrupled transit budget and the highest sales tax in the state say their train will decrease congestion. Not so.

One major claimed benefit of the Greenlight Pinellas proponents is that the train will decrease congestion on our local roads and highways.  However, this claim is entirely false and data from a variety of cities prove that rail systems are associated with increased congestion. Furthermore, when rail lines are constructed, they are known to take actual paved lanes away from cars and money away from roads, both of which increase congestions. The recent No Tax for Tracks TV commercial urging a “No Vote” on Greenlight Pinellas pointed out that it was “FALSE” that rail will decrease congestion. Here is data that supports that assertion. (Can Greenlight Pinellas show any facts that prove that traffic congestion decreases with rail? We are all waiting.)

  • More Cars riders with Portland Light Rail. In the first 12 years (86-97) after Portland’s “Max” train began operating, Portland saw more people transported by car while train passenger volume remained fairly steady. As economic upturn occurred in Portland (90’s and 2003-2006), traffic volumes went up even in areas also served by trains.
  • Tampa-St. Pete Cars Faster than Similar Cities with Rail. Average Traffic Speeds during peak travel hours are faster in the Tampa-St. Petersburg Area compared to comparable sized cities with rail. (Tampa 59.1 MPH, Portland 49.2 MPH, Minneapolis 54.3 MPH, Charlotte 58 MPH, Denver 50.9 MPH). Despite similar highway speeds, travel times in Charlotte (with train) are 10% longer than in Tampa-St. Pete. In Denver (with train), travel times are 37% longer in a city with rail! (Page A-17 of report.)
  • Tampa-St. Pete Cars Faster than Very Large Cities with Rail. Average Traffic speeds during peak travel hours are faster in the Tampa-St. Petersburg Area compared to “Very large” cities with rail, all of which are between 49.4-57MPH. (e.g. Tampa 59.1 MPH, Chicago 53 MPH, Houston, D.C.-49.4 MPH, L.A.- 48.6 MPH, Miami-56.7 MPH). (Page A-17 of report.)
  • Rail Does Not Move People out of Cars. Light rail does NOT prevent people from buying or using cars. In Britain, the rate of car ownership and desire for cars actually continued to increase despite ample rail lines to serve the community.
  • Roads Carry FAR More People than Rail.  Detailed studies cited at the Transit site “The Public Purpose” shows: “The average freeway lane in US metropolitan areas that have built new light rail systems (since 1980) carries four times as many people per mile as light rail. Even signalized surface streets average twice as many people per mile as light rail.”
  • Light Rail Systems are too slow to be an alternative to cars. Per “the Public Purpose”: “Light rail has a particular disadvantage in travel time. On average, during peak travel periods, light rail operates only slightly faster than buses and barely one-half as fast as automobiles.”



4 Replies:

  1. Ron Thompson

    All you need to do is buy everyone a car, insure it for them, and give them free gas and oil changes and repairs. You can easily pay for that out of the HUGE 14% tax raise that works out to … less than $10/mth per person on the average. Oh wait, there won’t be a tax increase, so only the poor, unemployed, disabled, and unable to drive will have no transit. Well, you WILL pay for their food and housing instead (sound crazy?) Or cut off that money, give them no option, and you WILl pay for police and jails. (typical conservative strategy). There is always plenty of conservative tax money to punish, but never money to create a system to provide a person a pathway to become a self-reliant, resposible, taxpayer.

    1. Sun Beam Times Post author

      Good point ROn,
      There is a calculation out there that based on current (low) ridership we could buy all current PSTA riders a new Prius with this size of massive tax hike.

      And btw, the only approach that makes people less independent and less self-reliant is big government “help”.

      People do better when youj cut thier taxes and ensure more individual responsibilty and self-reliance while providing strong PRIVATE charity safety nets when needed.

      Again, still no facts from you….

      1. Ron Thompson

        Like a magician, you say look over here, while changing things over there. Yes, your answers are magic.

        You COULD buy prople a prius, with the tax increase, but you oppose the tax increase. And the cars will increase traffic jsms, waste drivers times, require parking, be vulerable to damage and theft, and still do nothing for those that cannot drive.

        But by opposing the tax NTFT creates no transit, no PRIUSes, no opprotunity for those seeking a way out of poverty. Not some church soup kitchen, used shoes, or a cot in a gymnasium. (Do you no anything about subsidized housing in Pinellas?) Its the people ready to do the hard work to earn an education, then find and succeed at a job. Or do you expect the “magic” of charity to get them to school and work every morning, to jump their battery and change their flat tire in the rain?

        The people at NTFT do not tell lies, they tell something worse. They tie together plausable words into fantasty sentenses then defend those statements as natural truth. When an opponent’s commmon sense proves their assertion to be opinion, they demand the other party “prove” “their” claims against NTFT assertions that are only assumptions, fear, and ideology.

        When both sides rely on factts, or on ideolgy, NTFT doesnt stand a chance.

        1. Sun Beam Times Post author

          Ron, Greenlight relies SOLELY on the following big government “progressive” ideology:
          1. Cars are bad
          2. We must get people on to trains and busses
          3. More money in the hands of government is all good and only good
          4. Only big government spending improves the economy.
          5. Central planning by the government is good.

          There are no facts. They offer visions. There are no good results, only good “intentions”.

          As a liberal progressive, you should look up the psychological term “projection”. Here is a little help with that.

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