A desire named streetcar

Over at The Bellows, Ryan Avent links an article showing that, unsurprisingly, when you raise the price of driving, people do a lot less of it. Mass transit ridership rose to its highest level in 2007. You go, mass transit!

But I must make objection to the section Ryan chose to highlight:

The largest area of mass transit growth was in light rail use, which includes street cars and trolleys, with a 6 percent increase during 2007. Commuter rails were second with an increase of 5.5 percent in ridership and subway ridership had an increase of 3.1 percent.

I understand the love for light rail (aka trolleys and streetcars). They feel way cuter and more hip than riding a bus. But I don't think this is exactly heralding the new light rail revolution. If you look at the actual report, you'll see that the reason ridership increased so dramatically is that practically no one rides light rail. Judging from what I saw on my trip there, my single five block journey on Buffalo's light rail increased its annual passenger trips by about 100%. This is not, however, a dramatic surge in the country's collective will to break out the jaunty hats and the Judy Garland albums and climb back aboard the trolleys.

Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

The Man Who Owns 40,000 Video Games

A short documentary about an Austrian gamer with an uncommon obsession

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The 86-Year-Old Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

More in Business

Just In