Letter to the Editor of
Governing Magazine
Regarding Urban Rail

20 August 1998

To the Editor:

The very data used to support light rail is often, on examination more damning than complimentary. For example, that the closing of a major Mississippi River bridge approach in St. Louis diverted 2,000 people to light rail is not an indication of effectiveness, it rather demonstrates that light rail is a pathetic strategy for reducing traffic congestion. At most, light rail was able to carry two percent of traffic when a freeway was blocked! Moreover, it is not difficult to assess the effectiveness of light rail. Indeed, it is simple --- how many cars does it take off the road. On that score, the evidence is clear --- very few.

Light rail can produce only marginal results, and at a very great cost. The reason is that US urban population and destinations are insufficiently concentrated.

Wendell Cox

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