Originally Posted by Ayreonaut
Buffalo's system seems very bizarre. That said, I'm jealous because, for the time being, Calgary has no underground stations (our first, Westbrook, will open in 2012 as part of the WLRT
The WLRT video has a groovy soundtrack, for a demonstration video...
BTW, I think the problem with transit planning is forgetting the future and forecasting. Making an appropriate investment, even if it costs more, is the best option because of what can develop after its built. It is an infrastructure investment that will last many, many decades and if maintained correctly indefinitely into the future. I don't think transit is like highways because once you build a transit line, due to the nature of it, development can be radically different than building a highway in the middle of nowhere. Transit is typically built in areas that are already somewhat populated, or very populated. It allows a city to become more developed and redevelop existing neighborhoods as opposed to growth in the middle of nowhere.
And in large urban centers, light rail isn't always enough, but is a good compliment to any core system.
For example, light rail is a good supplemental or starter system for predominantly auto-oriented cities like Denver that will probably never see major transit usage in our lifetimes, but for urban centres like Toronto or New York (places that really depend on transit) it makes more sense to build out heavy rail in the core (already done in NY, hopefully more to come in Toronto) while light rail acts as a supplement to the main heavy rail system. In Toronto's case, the only Transit City line I generally agree with is Eglinton. They should trash the rest of the system and just funnel those funds into building a DRL and other subway enhancements in a mixed fashion. What they have proposed and begun construction on with Sheppard is a total disaster. I don't know of any city that has taken a starter subway line and built the rest of it as LRT with transfer points on a subway line that already requires a secondary transfer point. Transit City is effectively becoming Transfer City. Its the wrong implementation of light rail in that respect, at least for the non-Eglinton lines.
While I was kind of complaining about the JFK light rail system, in a way its a more affordable option for a feeder line that makes sense. Its not the backbone of the network, its just the airport feeder service.
This makes sense for cities that are actually urban/transit oriented. Light rail makes sense for cities that really just have it as a supplement to an auto-oriented culture, such as in St Louis or Denver. Its better to have something than nothing, especially if we ever begin to have major energy supply disruptions. That's the only time I could see cities like Portland, Denver, St Louis, etc start to build serious amounts of TOD development with tens of thousands of housing units around transit and business office parks around transit.