Infographic: Light Rail Transit for Dummies

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It's a subject that's sparked quite a bit of heated discussion, both in our own offices here at the Watergate and in homes across America. President Obama and his team have promised millions to transform our country's rail system, but several Republican governors have rejected federal funds outright, arguing that we shouldn't be spending more money on a form of transportation that consistently loses money. But "light and high speed rail transportation," when done right, "have the potential to revolutionize urban environments where traffic and pollution are at an all time high," according to the Crisp Green blog, which presents this infographic designed by Snapsort to sway undecided readers in favor of the issue.

The data presented in this graphic are focused around Waterloo, a small city in Ontario, Canada, where Snapsort, the company responsible for the graphic's construction, is based. While not all of the numbers can be applied to any region where light rail is being considered, they do provide a clear look at how trains can alter the transportation options in an urban environment.

Infographics are always a bit of a hodgepodge of statistics culled from a variety of sources. Here, we sort through the clutter and pull out some of our favorite facts and figures:

  • LRT will get more people to their destination, faster, and in a more comfortable setting. In Waterloo, the full standing capacity of the proposed light rail trains is 450, compares to only 75 for the buses currently being used.
  • The light rail system in Waterloo would cost more to build -- and leave residents with a higher tax contribution -- but is projected to last three times longer than a bus transit system.
  • "The more cities sprawl outward, the more we damage the environment and our health," said David Suzuki. "We need to design communities so that the people who live in them use their cars less and have a much lower impact on the environment, and a better quality of life in return."

Check out more Infographics on the Technology Channel.

LRT-for-Dummies.jpg

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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