Two world-class cities. Two new light rail lines.
Who will take all in the LIGHT RAIL SMACKDOWN?
Meet the contenders:
MUNI’s T-Third Line
Meet the MUNI Metro. The T-Third line was completed and began service to much City fanfare in early 2007. It serves as the outer leg of a proposed Central Subway system which would burrow directly underneath the City center. This competition ranks just the recent T-Third extension.
It’s a head to head contest. How does each rank on reasonable measurements of success of a light rail transit project? cost per mile, speed, frequency, reliability, public reaction, etc.
Total Project Cost
- LUAS: $1.1 billion (EUR 800 million) (Source)
- T-Third: $648 million (EUR 436 million) (Source)
- Note: LUAS total cost includes rolling stock and two storage depots, T-Third includes only one storage depot and no rolling stock.
Wow. The T-Third cost almost half as much as the LUAS. Was that a good deal? Let’s find out…
Cost Per Mile
- LUAS: $66.7 million per mile (calculated from above)
- T-Third: $120 million per mile (calculated from above)
Hmm. Even though the overall LUAS project was more expensive, the per mile cost is about HALF as much as the T-Third.
- LUAS: 22 minutes for 6 miles (Source) :: v = d/t = 6 mi / 22 min = 6 mi / .37 hr = 16.21 mph
- T-Third: Embarcadero Station to Sunnydale/Bayshore is 36 minutes over 6.73 miles (Source) :: v = d/t = 6.73 mi / 36 min = 6.73 mi / .6 hr = 11.2 mph
- Note: These are from self-published schedules. Experience shows T-Third lags significantly behind schedule. LUAS does not.
Wow, the LUAS is almost 50% faster than the T-Third! Maybe we didn’t get such a good deal after all. But speed isn’t everything, is it?
- LUAS: Morning (6:30a-10a) 5 min or less; midday (10a-3:30p) 7.5 min; evening (3:30p-7p) 5 min or less; all other times 15 min or less. (Source)
- T-Third: Morning (7a-9a) 10 min; midday (9a-4p) 10 min; evening (4p-7p) 8 min; all other times 20 min or less. (Source)
- Note: Self-published data.
Oh, and the LUAS comes about twice as often as the T-Third. So it’s faster AND it comes more frequently. Perhaps it was worth the pricetag?
- LUAS: 80,000 average daily passengers (Source)
- T-Third: Unavailable at present. Bus line 15 (replaced by T-Third) reported 29,524 average daily passengers. For comparison, N-Judah reports 31,381 average daily riders. (Source)
The LUAS has amazing ridership figures. I wonder — do people like it because it’s fast? Or, maybe because it has a very high frequency of trains?
Farebox Recovery Ratio (Profitability)
- LUAS: Operates at a profit (EUR 5.6 million in 2006) by a private French corporation through a franchise agreement. Actual farebox recovery unavailable. Of course, report of an operating surplus does not subtract any sort of amortized capital construction costs.
- T-Third: Individual line operating cost information unavailable. Overall MUNI system operates at a significant loss. Farebox recovery ratio is about 25% (Source).
Go figure, if you build a transit line that actually serves people’s needs, you can have an operating SURPLUS! Who knew!?
It looks like San Francisco sure got screwed. And it seems like we just can’t wait to get screwed again!