This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
It’s not just Seattle. Light Rail is having a moment in the sun right now. People like the flexibility if offers. Unlike heavy rail, which requires either a diesel locomotive or a dangerous high-voltage third rail, light rail can wind through neighborhoods relatively easily. Light Rail systems are about to come online in Phoenix and Minneapolis. Dallas and Denver also have relatively new systems on line, as do many other cities around the world.
But all forms of transit seem to be having a renaissance these days:
But during the last 10 years a transit renaissance has blossomed in many parts of the country. According to the American Public Transportation Association, public transit use has risen 30 percent since 1995, more than double the U.S. population’s 12 percent growth and higher than the 24 percent increase in vehicular travel during that period.
In 2006, the association said, 10.1 billion passengers boarded local public transportation, the first time that number topped 10 billion in 49 years.
A significant part of that growth has involved light rail, a transit category covering modern streetcars, trolleys, and ‘heritage’ trolleys.
Last year, light rail had the highest-percentage increase of all transit modes, enjoying a 5.6 percent ridership boost.
And remember — gas prices in 1995 were what, $1/gallon or so? It seems like transit use has nowhere to go but up.