With TriMet on the verge of opening its fifth MAX route, the $1.4 billion Orange Line between downtown Portland and Milwaukie, some might wonder if it’s even worth asking whether light rail has been worth the investment.
But a new “Future of Transportation” analysis of U.S. Census data conducted by Yonah Freemark, project manager at Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago, raises some serious questions about TriMet’s decision to invest so heavily in light rail over the past three decades.
Writing for The Atlantic Cities, known for its unabashed advocacy of mass transit, Freemark says “it doesn’t take much digging” to realize that light-rail systems built with billions of taxpayer dollars in Portland and four other cities since the 1980s have not lived up to their promises.
“These initial five systems in themselves neither rescued the center cities of their respective regions nor resulted in higher transit use — the dual goals of those first-generation lines,” he writes..
UPDATE: Example of integrated light-rail in public spaces – Angers, France (metro pop. 395,000):