While the debate on overall WMATA funding continues, there is a secondary debate about adding light rail to the current bus-heavy rail mix.

I am on the fence about light rail. I think the bus is a more efficient and much cheaper option, but I can see how the permanence of investment of light rail can attract much greater secondary investment than the bus at a cheaper cost than heavy rail.

Here in San Fran, where I am this week, light rail (called MUNI) is a great revitilizer of smaller retail districts and does an amazing job at incorporating suburban areas into city life without the need for more cars, highways or parking investment.

While riding it today I was lost in a dream – a light rail loop from H Street NE to downtown to SE Waterfront to Anacostia and back.

Crazy yes, but damn cool too. What’s your light rail dream?

1 Comment so far

  1. Andrew Leyden (unregistered) on February 27th, 2006 @ 9:44 pm

    The problem with MUNI (and most light rail) is that it serves the same clientele as existing public transit–those without a car.

    Now before you call me some elitist snob, let me mention that I lived ten years in DC without owning a car. I knew the bus routes backwards and forwards and could even time my schedule (such as it was) to some of the routes.

    But public transit in DC is designed, by and large, as a subsidy for those not owning cars–not an alternative to driving.

    It is slower, it is expensive (and don’t give me that total cost of ownership argument because I’m going to own a car regardless of what I use to get to work), it is inconvenient (unless you live and work atop of stations, but even then see point 1). It’s just not a real alternative.

    I like trolleys and what not, and I think a tram system in Anacostia would do wonders for that area, but I really wish someone would start talking about public transit system that would get me out of my car and make my life easier, instead of punishing me (time, money, etc) for taking transit. Faster (mega-fast) trains, faster buses, quicker transfers, developments on top of stations, not miles from.

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