Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Should Passenger Rail Be Built Ahead of Demand?

I've been hearing a lot of talk about light rail in our area again lately. And while someone ALWAYS brings it up at every public meeting I attend, someone else at the same meeting always shoots it down for the same two reasons; the expense involved and the lack of density to support it in our area.

As this article from Transportation Issues Daily points out though, America's transcontinental railroads were built ahead of demand; should we be doing the same with passenger rail?

Read the article and give me your thoughts.


Charles said...

Spokane was built by a lot of individuals and most also built a street car line to their development to attract people to buy houses in their development, so those street car lines were built ahead of demand right here. Should we build more passenger rail lines today? Yes but where will the money come from? Private developers?, Taxes?

SRTC Staff said...

And that's where, once again, the discussion on public-private partnerships comes in. It's amazing to me that 100 years ago Spokane had an entire street car system. Plus there was rail service to get people to Liberty and Newman lakes for recreational reasons. Why? Because, as you pointed out @Charles, someone was making money off of it. As we keep hearing, there's not going to be much federal money available for projects like this in the future so maybe it's time we looked more seriously into forming alliances and partnerships.

Charles said...

Also Coeur d'Alene Lake, Post Falls, Newport, Pullman and Moscow

SRTC Staff said...

So there's your 'regional' coordination.

About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.