OK, so light rail doesn't do much to reduce traffic congestion. But rail hungry cities often learn that it can actually jam up congested streets even more.
Houston Mayor Bill White in a recent interview:
I support the Main Street rail line but it's wreaked havoc on some of our signal timing.
BlogHouston's Kevin Whited:
The Main Street rail line has indeed wreaked havoc on signal timing, and (as a result) vehicular traffic flow in that corridor. Sensible people understand the folly of laying light rail lines down busy vehicular traffic corridors, but Houston's light-rail-at-any-cost crowd is not always sensible. Unfortunately, the Mayor's "complaint" doesn't have much teeth, as he seems disinclined to discourage METRO from laying even more light rail down busy streets, some of which have much more heavily trafficked intersections than the Main Street corridor (like Richmond/Kirby).
Flashback to Minneapolis 2004
The past week of testing showed that traffic signals that give priority to Hiawatha light-rail trains have dramatically slowed the flow of traffic on Highway 55, which parallels the line through south Minneapolis.
Meanwhile, in Charlotte, an exasperated Jeff Taylor considers whether he should not just submit to railophilia, but also kick the fantasying up a notch:
Hey, maybe CATS' problem is that it is just not thinking big enough. For example, why do a boring $250 million commuter train line up I-77 way when there is 70 year-old plan for an amphibious monorail out there just waiting to be made a reality.
Related: Sam and me on How Traffic Jams are Made in City Hall