Ian Bicking: the old part of his blog

Re: On the subject of mass transit

While I mostly agree with what you say, existing mass transit tends to be not much better than cars, I have to take issue with this statement:

A highway lane of car traffic transports far more people than a single rail line.

I don't think this is in any meaningful way true. Typical theoretical rail capacity per unit land area is 5-10 times that of human piloted highway systems. While Chicago has far more auto commuters than rail commuters, it also has vastly more highway lanes than rail lines.

It's certainly true that the El doesn't use its capacity particularly well, but I believe its throughput were unit area is still much better than the highway system, especially at rush hour.

This is one of the less discussed benefits of transit, the Car Free Cities folks are big into the benefits of lowering transportation footprint for density and overall livability, I think they have a reasonable point.

With that said, I'm all for better systems than light rail. :)

Comment on On the subject of mass transit
by Jeffrey Harris

Comments:

A highway lane of car traffic transports far more people than a single rail line.

I don't think this is in any meaningful way true. Typical theoretical rail capacity per unit land area is 5-10 times that of human piloted highway systems.

I thought I read something about this somewhere... but now that I think about it, it doesn't make sense to me. I'll correct that. This report seems to cover the issue of rail capacity (looks interesting; I should probably read it more closely). It seems to say 15k-50k passengers/hr of capacity, depending on vehicle type and train length. Reversing the numbers on this page imply that a highway lane has a capacity of 1.5-1.7k. So yeah, I'm just totally wrong.

# Ian Bicking