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Old Posted Jan 18, 2022, 3:32 AM
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Join Date: May 2019
Location: Los Angeles
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Originally Posted by IrvineNative View Post
Outside of SF, Boston, and LA, my picks for the top 3 LRT systems with most ridership circa 2040 are:

1. Seattle
2. Austin
3. San Diego

1. Seattle--very high job concentration in downtown, very big secondary edge city downtown (Bellevue), moderately fast corporate and residential growth to fuel transit-oriented development.

2. Austin--moderately high job concentration in downtown, extremely fast corporate and residential growth to fuel transit-oriented development (fastest growing of the top 100 US metro areas, % growth 2x as fast as Seattle or Phoenix!).

3. San Diego--very low job concentration in Downtown, very little corporate and residential growth to fuel-transit oriented development. Has NONE of the advantages of Austin or Seattle BUT still gets decent ridership (2019 ridership rivalled Portland's MAX).

For a smaller, slow-growing metro area, San Diego is building a shocking amount of TOD (10,000 residential units and 2.7 million sq feet of office space in approved light rail TOD projects in ONE neighborhood alone, Mission Valley, which isn't even Downtown!).

Unlike Portland, San Diego achieves decent ridership without even having a rail connection to the airport. San Diego Trolley has also had the least affected and most resilient ridership of any US light rail system during the past two years. The Trolley also
boasts a farebox recovery ratio of 50+ percent, which is super-high for US light rail. With that financial stability, the Trolley was even able to upgrade Blue Line frequencies to every 7.5 minutes in both directions, from dawn to dusk, Mon-Fri, without interlining--something very few US light rails have done.

In a nutshell: San Diego Trolley looks like it'd get abysmal, Sacramento light rail ridership on paper but in reality actually gets decent, Portland MAX ridership despite having none of the advantages of Portland.
San Diego also just opened an 11-mile extension of the Blue Line (light rail) northward to one of the, if not the, largest urban nodes in greater San Diego. It will serve, in addition to a large shopping district and dozens of midrise office buildings, UC San Diego's massive campus and the region's VA hospital.

Some forumers scoff at investing in public transportation in San Diego, but back before COVID it was a not-so-distant fifth in the nation for light rail ridership with 117,700 workday riders, (barely) behind Portland at 119,600, Boston at 137,700, San Francisco at 157,700 and Los Angeles at 161,300. SD buses feed the train system, too, which that quarter carried some 163,000 daily riders--more bus riders than in Dallas, the same as in Miami, and comparable to bus ridership in Minneapolis.
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