Tragedy Highlights Obsolescence of Light Rail

Despite the fact that cars – personal autonomous vehicles – are becoming more versatile, more diverse, and more sustainable every year, and despite the fact that virtually every technology expert and social prognosticator has known this for decades, Americans have nonetheless poured countless billions of dollars into urban “light rail” schemes instead of improving roads. Metropolitan passenger rail does make sense in some of America’s most densely populated cities – New York City and Boston are examples of that – but in suburban California, they’ve never worked, and they never will.

A prime example of this folly is none other than Silicon Valley, where despite the presence of innovators that have already put onto the road EVs that do zero to sixty in under 3 seconds and drive themselves, and are about to put into the air passenger drones that will literally leapfrog surface transportation, billions have been squandered on light rail that hardly anyone rides.

Every weekday in Santa Clara County over 700,000 commuters drive to work. Before the pandemic struck, in 2019, an additional 27,000 used light rail for this commute. Post-pandemic, it is unlikely ridership on light rail will ever recover to 2019 levels. Commuting by car, for that matter, may have peaked, since one bright spot in the challenges of the past year is that work-at-home technologies have come of age. So why did transportation planners ever decide to invest billions in a light rail system that never took more than 4 percent of cars […] Read More