Tag Archives: urban rail

The Most Important Rail Statistic You Will Ever See

By Bill Oakey – August 10, 2014

“In 1980, Cato Institute fellow Randal O’Toole says, the census reported that 9.8 percent of Portland area residents used transit (buses, at the time) to get to work. In 2012, 75 miles of rail transit later, that number had fallen to 7 percent.”

That is a direct quote from Ben Wear’s Austin American-Statesman article on Portland’s sprawling light rail system. This is a system that cost many billions of dollars over more than 30 years, with far more Federal and state cost sharing than Austin could ever hope to see.

And don’t forget one huge factor in that figure of 7% transit ridership as of 2012. It includes all public transit – buses as well as rail. There is much more to write about, talk about, and think about with regard to Austin’s proposed urban rail, as we look to the November bond election.

But for now, let me just say it one more time. Portland has built a massively expensive 75 mile rail system. The percentage of their population that uses mass transit, including both rail and buses fell from 9.8% to 7% between 1980 and 2012.

So there you have it.