Light Rails – Good Or Bad

One of the biggest debates around Austin in the past several years is the addition of a light rail to the city’s mass transit program. While the measure passed and the infrastructure is in the process of being constructed, there are still many people who have questions and doubts as to what benefits a light rail will have for the city. While some of the concerns people have a certainly legitimate, many are unfounded ideas about what having a light rail would mean for the city.

One of the biggest concerns of citizens is that the installation of a light rail will result in an increase in taxes for construction and upkeep. While there will certainly be costs involved that will come out of the city’s public transportation budget, many of these costs will be defrayed from the fees charged to use the service. In most other cities who have implemented a light rail program, ridership has far exceeded their expectations and increased as time has passed.

Others are concerned that after the expense, there will still be no reduction in traffic on the roadways. Austin, being a large city, will likely always be a high traffic area. However, the addition of this type of public transportation will help to reduce the number of vehicles on the road and lighten the amount of traffic. Traffic problems will still exist, but they will be somewhat smaller because of the light rail being available as an alternative.

Many argue that adding buses to the city transit program would be a more cost effective solution to the traffic issues. Bus lines may seem a good choice to save a few dollars against the expense of constructing a light rail system, but there are many more potential issues created by using buses. First, timetables and travel can be affected when using buses. When traffic is heavy, service to certain area can be slow or nearly impossible. With a light rail, dealing with street traffic is virtually eliminated. Additionally, buses product emissions that can be devastating to the environment. The light rail is run by electricity, making it friendlier to the planet. In fact, many who currently use the bus system would likely switch over to the light rail, saving themselves time in their daily schedule and routine.

In a city the size of Austin, that continues to grow and thrive, finding public transportation solutions that are both cost effective and safe for the environment can be difficult. There is certainly no perfect answer to the traffic and congestion issues that are faced by any city. However, programs like the light rail can help significantly reduce commuting issues, such as gridlock and air pollution, if even only a fraction of those driving in the city choose to use it. There may always be those who oppose traffic systems, such as the light rail, but before long, many will see the wonderful benefits that this transit program can bring to such a large city.

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