But from the beginning, reality has not matched theory. Urban-growth boundaries don’t allow the kind of suburban house with a yard that most Americans want to own. Instead, they drive up the costs of all homes to increasingly unaffordable levels. And to frost the cake, by increasing density, they increase traffic and congestion. Likewise, light rail systems just don’t meet any of the goals envisioned for them. Very few people can both live and work on a single thin line drawn by a planner for a light rail route. Very few people are willing to take a bus to the train, the train to a bus, the bus to work, and vice versa on the way home. So, light rail systems all carry vastly fewer passengers than expected as all transit systems keep losing market share to automobiles.
March 1, 2003