Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Norfolk (Virginia, USA) light rail line opens to large crowds

With the proposal for a Light Rail system in the rebuilt Christchurch (see earlier post), here is a news item about "The Tide", a new light rail line in Norfolk, Virginia, opened on Friday, 19 August.  Also reproduced below it are some comments from another website which will make a good counter to the objections we can expect Steven Joyce to make about the Christchurch proposal.

"More than 46,000 people took advantage of free rides during the first two days, far more than anticipated. The 7.3 mile/11.8 km line runs from Eastern Virginia Medical Center through central Norfolk to Newtown Road, with 11 stations serving locations including cultural, financial and entertainment facilities. Siemens has supplied nine S70 light rail vehicles for The Tide, which is predicted to have an initial weekday ridership of 2,900, rising to 7,200 by 2031.
'The start of light rail service in Norfolk is a game changer,' said Philip A Shucet, President & CEO of operator Hampton Roads Transit. 'It marks the return of regular train service to downtown Norfolk and offers commuters the first new transportation choice in a generation."
The first plans for what became The Tide were developed from the mid-1980s. Construction began in 2007, and after 18 months of delays and a $106m budget overrun, the final cost of the project is put at $318·5m. Mayor Paul Fraim told The Virginian-Pilot that, at less than $27m/km, 'if it is not the lowest on a per-mile basis of any light rail, it is at the very bottom of the list'. Light rail numbers continue rocking the grand opening of Norfolk’s new mode of public transportation."

Doug Smith from Wisconsin said:
The trouble with simply adding more road capacity is that it quickly fills up and is only a temporary solution to the problem. The advantage of rail is that over a given route, trains take up less space than the equivalent amount of automobile traffic. How much more property do we condemn in our urban areas to increase arterial highway flow? Why not use a good alternative to an overused method of transportation and not have all our eggs in one basket? Besides, I've always thought that if any other transportation system killed and maimed as many people as our highways do per year, the government would have shut it down ages ago. Instead we write it off as the cost of doing business. Sad, don't you think?

James Meyer from Missouri said:
For those who insist that all transportation functions be a profit generating enterprise, How much money (profit) do you make driving your automobile in everyday commuting? My guess would be nothing. And this is in spite of the motorist and non-motorist paying a hefty tax burden to provide paved streets and highways.
In a nutshell, no form of transportation makes money, it costs money and lots of it.

David Pressley from North Carolina said:
Hooray...... another light rail system with ridership exceeding expectations.
Will the opponents of efficient, light rail transportation keep jousting at windmills forever?

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