Today Reason released a new study — Rail Disasters 2005 — by economist Randal O’Toole that finds that, over the past two decades, transit ridership has declined, or at best remained stagnant, in more than two out of three urban areas with rail transit, while it grew in numerous regions with bus-only transit. Here’s a summary:
Over the past two decades, transit ridership has declined in nearly two out of three regions with rail transit. By comparison, numerous regions that rely on bus transit have seen huge increases in transit ridership at a relatively low cost. Additionally, the cost of starting a rail transit line can be 50 to 100 times greater than the cost of starting comparable bus service. This new report, “Rail Disasters 2005,” scrutinizes transit records in 23 urban areas with rail transit and assigns each a letter grade based on whether transit ridership has grown faster than driving, grown slower than driving, or declined.