Originally Posted by LAofAnaheim
Even as Denver, SLC, Portland and Houston continue their significant expansions, they will be no match for LA's expansion, especially, as pointed out, when the rail enters the Westside, which is the 2nd/3rd largest concentration of jobs in LA after downtown and Century City. LA is a very dense city with little to no rail transit in some areas. With Measure R, we'll have a subway in Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood/UCLA and light rail to Santa Monica, Westside, Crenshaw and a downtown connector. All significant expansions that will exponentially grow our rail network. In 20 years, I'd say that LA will be within the Chicago, SF and Washington DC daily rail ridership; maybe even 3rd behind Chicago?
LA will certainly see major growth in the number of rail transit passengers in the next several decades. However, correct me if I am wrong, the 15+ years out plans are to have only 2 heavy rail transit lines (Red and Purple). The rest of the rail transit lines will be light rail with varying degrees of grade separation and peak capacity. Heavy rail transit aka subways with 4-8 car long trainsets, while expensive to build, can handle a lot of traffic. That much of the system will be light rail lines may hold down the total rail ridership numbers from what it might have been if LA had opted to build several more heavy rail transit lines over light rail.
The DC Metro system ridership number growth has leveled off in recent years. Some of it can be attributed to completion of the original system in 2001 and the last expansion in 2004. Some of the slow growth can be attributed to the aftermath of the 2009 Red Line collision, rate increases, and the current 6 year $5 billion Capital Improvement Program. The capital improvement program appears to driving many in DC and inner communities crazy who take the Metro to get around on weekends crazy because of the constant series of weekend work projects shutting down stations, closing off sections of lines with busitutions, single tracking, never ending escalator repairs. But the high level of catch-up maintenance and replacement work will come to an end in a few years.
The DC Metro system will see expansion with 23 mile Silver Line due to be completed by 2017-2018 and the odds fair to middling on the light rail Purple Line being in service by circa 2022. But those are expansions of the system. What has been interesting to observe in the DC area (as someone who lives in the middle suburbs) has been the profound shift in construction of residential and mixed use projects since the bubble began to deflate in circa 2005-2006. Much of the new construction has shifted from the outer edges to TOD projects in the city and inner DC metro area inside the Beltway. Many of the these projects and plans are either near Metro stations or are along planned streetcar and transitway corridors that lead to Metro stations. Tysons Corner in VA is in the early stages of a major redevelopment tied to the Silver Line. From what I see, DC is in a TOD boom that may not be getting much attention outside of the DC metro region.
The net end result of all these TOD projects and communities is going to be a lot more people living around DC Metro stations who use it on evenings and weekends, not just to commute to work. The DC Metro system is going to see a fair amount of ridership growth in the next 10 years from all the new apartments, condos, townhouses, office buildings clustered around the Metro station. Throw in high gas prices and the Orange Crush may become the Orange Puree.
So, LA, Chicago, SF, Boston (not to be overlooked) for heavy + light rail transit totals will be trying to catch up with a moving target for DC for second place.