An article about the Dallas Area Rapid Transit system demonstrates what our own NH studies and history have shown us — even in highly populated areas, or areas where development has been constructed near trains, commuter rail does not attract enough ridership to pay for the billions they cost to run, any more than they alleviate traffic, create jobs, or cut down on pollution.
What they in fact do, is promote more “new urbanism” because often they breed more high density, “transit-oriented” development — aka “stack and pack” housing. NH’s own DOT report suggested that in addition to needing a new, broad-based tax to support the low ridership of the proposed system for NH, more high-density housing would need to be artificially created near train stops. But apparently this hasn’t helped the DART who is reluctant to post its statistics publicly.
What is DART?
Dallas Area Rapid Transit is the longest light-rail system in the country. The article notes that it is only useful “for 9-5 commuters who live within walking distance of a rail station.” The idea that trains are fixed in where they can stop limits ridership.
The article states, “DART ridership has never quite lived up to early expectations. More telling is the fact that, when one controls for the additional stops and routes, ridership hasn’t appreciably grown.”
As for the issue of alleviating traffic “More telling, light-rail hasn’t moved the needle on commuting behavior” and “…there’s no evidence to show that more people are using transit now than 20 years ago. In fact, census data show the opposite.” This seems to be the same situation everywhere.
What about those TOD areas? The article had this to say: “Though the residents were more likely than other Dallasites to use transit, the likelihood was still low even though they lived in places supposedly built for transit use. “Cars are much faster than trains,” said one member of a focus group. Another: “I don’t want to take the time to learn how to use the system; too complicated.” A third: “At places you may get jumped or scared if you go to the wrong area.” And these are people who have chosen to live within walking distance of a train stop.”
This must be a painful read for rail fans. The idea that planners would have to design TOD (apartments near trains), but not near highways or parking to try to socially engineer the residents of those developments into using the train, is telling. Perhaps parking was provided because common sense would dictate that cars are needed to transport most others to and from the stations!
The DART article reveals something else we all knew — rails are part of the “New Urbanism” movement to socially engineer where we “live, work, play, and travel”. The article boasts that the DART system “…generated $5 billion in transit-oriented development around its 62 stations”, and is “…changing the way the region grows and how North Texans live”. But even with this sort of manipulation, the small numbers of people who can or want to use the train are too limited to make the system viable.
Commuter Rail Planning Bill for NH
The House passed SB 241. Voting was 213-141 along party lines.
If you care about taxes, you will care about this issue which by all accounts and studies would be a huge detriment to the NH Advantage.
These 8 Republicans voted for SB 241 which by the DOT’s own study portends to be the worst financial boondoggle ever for NH and likely cause a huge new broad-based tax: James Allard, Arthur Barnes, Joel Desilets, George Feeney, Dennis Fields, Werner Horn, Aboul Khan, Walter Stapleton.
Feeney, Fields, and Stapleton represent areas upcountry where the residents would not even benefit from this, but their constituents would pay just the same.
KUDOS to these 5 Democrats who had the courage to break with their party and vote NO: Susan Ticehurst, Edith Tucker, Linn Opderbecke, Henry Parkhurst, Judith Spang.
All 5 of the above-named Democrats were smart enough to realize they also represent areas where the residents would not even benefit from this, but their constituents would pay just the same.
44 Reps were absent on this very important vote. (2 of 46 were excused)
Be sure to call the Governor’s office (603-271-2121) and leave a message that you want him to stand by his party and VETO SB 241 – a ridiculous, wasteful bill.
If you are too shy to call, sign the petition and your name will be included with those who want this bill VETOED: https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/no-commuter-rail-for-nh
The Democrats do not seem care if they impose another tax upon NH. They have already included an income tax in their proposed budget, and this is one way they could get it.