The stupidity - it burns.
Light rail works well once you reach a certain critical mass - cities with a population greater than three million people will find light rail a good addition to their public transit system. Boston, Vancouver, BC, New York City, San Francisco - these cities have functional subway and light rail systems. Seattle and Portland are right on the line and have some problems.
Albuquerque, NM (907,000) and Edmonton, Alberta (1,290,000) - not so much. In Albuquerque's case, it would have been cheaper to take the construction costs and buy every regular rider a Prius. The annual maintenance and operation costs would amount to about $10K per regular rider - that buys a lot of gasoline.
My key nit with light rail is that as the city's demographics change, the rails are fixed and cannot change to accommodate. I lived in Seattle for 20 years and there was a definite progression of gentrification and new "hip" neighborhoods coming into vogue.
Edmonton? From the Edmonton Journal:
Tristin Hopper: The $600 million Edmonton train that snarls traffic, slows down transit times and increases emissions
Canada needs public transit. We have clogged roads, densifying cities and — save for this weird Saudi Arabian orchestrated oil glut — rising fuel prices.
Bike lanes won’t fix it and new highways won’t fix it; the only way we can live in a Canada that isn’t a squished, congested mess is if we spruce up the place with a whole bunch of trains, buses and subways.
Which is why, to ensure the prosperous and happy future of this great country, we must all now take a look at the City of Edmonton and solemnly vow to do the exact opposite of whatever the hell they just did with their new $665 million Metro Line LRT.
It’s slower than a bus. It has slowed down the buses that existed. And it is almost certainly increasing Edmonton’s net amount of carbon emissions. In short, it fails on every single possible justification for why cities should build light rail.
I am a fervent — almost fanatical — supporter of public transit. I’ve taken pleasure trips to foreign cities largely to soak up the sublime efficiency of an S-Bahn or a New York City A-train. But lately I have trouble sleeping until I comfort myself with visions of the Metro Line LRT tracks being torn up, French résistance-style, so the tyrannical train can never, ever run again.
Gee Tristin - why don't you tell us what you really feel? Some more - the location was not well thought out:
The chief problem is that the train was built at grade and cleaves through several major intersections. Traffic needs to be halted well in advance of its arrival, leading to the Kafkaesque nightmare of an intersection where all sides are given a red light for up to 90 seconds before a train arrives (if it does at all).
I’ve personally clocked a six-minute wait. A co-worker clocked an incredible 12 minutes. Online, disbelieving drivers have taken to Reddit to report waits of 15 minutes.
To put it in context, that’s about half the time needed to cross the entire city by highway from one “Welcome to Edmonton” sign to the other.
During these frequent traffic stoppages, a huge swath of northern Edmonton becomes a gridlocked nightmare of idling cars, trucks and city buses.
And this wonderful bit of planning:
And did I mention that the Metro Line is right next to a major hospital? Ambulances can’t drive through railway barriers, even if they’re in a hurry. Thus, any Edmontonian unlucky enough to have a heart attack in one of the northwestern quadrants of the city must wait as paramedics wend a circuitous route through downtown.
Tristin had this observation:
Taken together, the whole project is the equivalent of a candy company releasing a new chocolate bar called Herpes Al-Qaeda. I struggle to understand how such an obviously horrific idea was able to pass so many levels of approval and be unleashed on an innocent and unsuspecting citizenry. And I’ve lived in Toronto.
Fortunately, other Canadian cities are waking up:
Recently, a referendum to fund critical Metro Vancouver transportation infrastructure with a sales tax levy was roundly rejected. The “no” vote succeeded largely on the strength of a campaign led by the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation to convince Metro Vancouverites that TransLink, the regional transit authority, was full of untrustworthy spendthrifts.
The key problem is that nobody in the planning stage bears any responsibility if things aren't planned well - they show up, clock in their hours and go home at night without a care in the world. Only when something really egregious happens do they get punished and that is usually a promotion to a different office, lying low for a couple months and then resurfacing in another public office, usually at a higher salary.
Busses work - they are not as 'sexy' as light rail but they are a lot cheaper and offer better service. As the city demographics change, the busses can change their routes. Light rail is a smoking money pit with no rredeemingvalue as long as your greater population is lower than three million.