Let’s Just Drop All This Light Rail, Public Transportation Nonsense

Because it doesn’t make any sense, no one wants it, and it costs too much.

Despite spending hundreds of millions on light rail and commuter rail, rail transit has had virtually no impact on the transportation habits of the region’s residents. In 1990, before any rail was operating, 2.7 percent of the region’s commuters took transit to work. By 2008, when the region had nearly 75 miles of rail transit, just 2.2 percent of commuters took transit to work. Like other regions, Dallas-Ft. Worth has attempted to promote transit-oriented developments along its rail lines. Unlike regions in Oregon, California, and a few other states, Texas municipal governments can wield only carrots, not sticks, in promoting such developments, as Texas law does not allow counties to zone unincorporated areas. As a result, transit planners must rely solely on subsidies rather than urban-growth boundaries and their effects on land prices.

(h/t Rodger Jones)


  1. Tim Lebsack says:

    We need the rail. We’ve got to deliver train car loads of people to the new hotel.

  2. Fort WorthGuy says:

    On a whim I had some people want to meet me for lunch at Mockingbird Station a few weeks ago. I decided to take the TRE from Fort Worth to Union Station in Dallas. There I connected to the Red Line to Mockingbird Station. I carefully coordinated the TRE arrival time to coordinate with the Red Line departure. This was easy on the internet. It was a piece of cake….and do not be late. The trains run on time. I was pleasantly surprised at the ease and efficiency of the system (and yes, I know about the Dart rail melt down at the UT-OU game) and would consider taking it again. Cost: 7.50. I know it is heavily subsidized and no telling how much it looses every year, but it is a shame more people do not take it.

  3. Frank R says:

    I had a discussion about transit at a meeting recently with someone who has been working with Arlington on trying to develop rail. The argument for bringing mass transit to Arlington is centered on the notion that businesses look at the public transportation of a city when deciding on where to locate their headquarters or other facilities. Assuming this is accurate, the question is why? Also, are these businesses looking at the demographics of the area? How many people would actually use or need to use the public transportation.
    I’ve always maintained this was a bias encouraged and perpetuated by those in the Northeast US in particular.

  4. FortWorthGuy says:

    Fort Worth is doing a study for a new cable car/trolly system. I have not paid too much attention to it, but I do not think that FW has all that much population density to sustain it. Granted, it will require heavily subsidies (and that is just tax dollars, not real dollars after all!!) to make it work. I commented above about the TRE and the DART light rail, and the thing I liked best and found the most appealing is that they all ran on time. DO NOT BE LATE for the TRE or you will wait for the next train. The light rail was pretty much spot on too. Knowing you can get to a station at a specific time and only have a short wait is a plus in my book. If the FW trolly system can run on a specific time schedule then it can be somewhat of a success. I cannot think of anything worse than waiting outside in July in 98 degree heat (and similar humidity) not knowing when the next trolly will come along.

  5. Daniel says:

    Okay, but the notion that building more roads is somehow a response to market demand is equally a sham. It is the government deciding on your behalf precisely how it is you’ll get around. Zoning decisions and investment in transportation infrastructure = social engineering. Period. Don’t like it, get around by supersonic libertarian jet-pack, fine by me.