The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal

Informed but opinionated commentary and analysis on urban transportation topics from the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty.

Our Mission: Monkeywrench the Anti-Transit Forces

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Friday, February 28, 2003

Wendell Cox Is Not Mediocre, But Sometimes, He's Dense -- 2

"It is the unfortunate destiny of the ridiculous to be subject to ridicule."
James Howard Kunstler

"Truth passes through three phases: 1) It is ridiculed. 2) It is violently opposed. 3) It is accepted as self-evident." Albert Schopenhouer. In the United States, rail is currently passing through Phase Two.

From the Cabalmaster:

In our last post, we explained the difference between:

“Traffic density,” the number of passengers who travel over each mile of route.

“Boarding density,” the number of passengers who enter, or board vehicles, along each mile of route.

(“Wendell’s density,” as we see it, ranges from high to extreme – in other words, Wendell, we think you’re dense.)

We’re not really sure what “boarding density” indicates in terms of the “workload” performed by each system. However, we do acknowledge that boarding counts are an important measure of transportation performance.

The tables that follow show various rail systems worldwide ranked by traffic density. We’ve also included rank according to “passengers per line mile,” aka “Wendell Rank,” for each entry so that you can compare (“*” = more than one system with this rank).

We’ll share various techniques for estimating average trip length in due course, but not today. We’ll be brief, blunt, and to the point: we’re not going to assist the Denizens of Demographia should they care to challenge the results presented below. (Let ‘em do their own homework!)

Lines are classified by type, as follows:

---ICTS: “Intermediate Capacity Transport System;” this category includes lines built with full separation and using vehicles smaller than full-scale urban HRT. Many ICTS systems use rubber-tired vehicles and driverless (automated) operation of trains. Monorail is generally considered a separate mode but has much in common with ICTS.

---LRT: Light Rail Transit, implying significant sections of reserved track and multiple-car trains.

---Monorail: Straddle (Alweg-type) or suspended (Safege-type) monorail lines.

---Streetcar: Urban tramway systems without significant sections of reserved track, and significant operation of multiple-car trains.

---Suburban: In Switzerland and provincial Japanese cities, electric light railways having various “light rail” characteristics but not usually listed as “LRT.” These characteristics include extensive sections of reserved track and significant operation of multiple-car trains; in Japan, such lines have no street track and car-floor-level boarding.

In large Japanese and German cities, Hong Kong and Paris, lines which are heavy rail in character and serve mixed urban-suburban markets.

---Urban HRT: Urban heavy rail transit, that is, fully separated alignment, multiple-car trains and car-floor level boarding.

(“Premetro” is a French and Belgian term for tramcar subways built for eventual conversion to urban HRT.)

(“S-Bahn,” a German abbreviation for “Schnellbahn” or “Fast Railway,” refers to HRT services operated over “railway” lines, often but not necessarily with dedicated tracks. These serve mixed urban-suburban markets.)

(“Sneltram,” a Dutch term meaning “Fast Tram,” refers in this case to an Amsterdam service, using LRT-type vehicles, that has a section of shared operation with full-scale urban HRT trains.

We’ve grouped systems according to geography:

U.S., Canada, Australia and Western Europe.
Eastern Europe.
Former Soviet Union.
Latin America.

We’ve used the following precision standards:

Japan: Nearest tenth.
USA: Two significant digits.
Rest of World: Nearest whole; two significant digits.

Japanese data are not necessarily more precise than those found in the NTD, but we do appreciate that traffic-density statistics are presented explicitly, and Your Favorite Transit Pundits decided to call attention to this fact!

We’ll start presenting the data tables next time.

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