Monday, May 4, 2009

An economic analysis of light rail: Is it feasible?

Ross Prusakowski is on his way to a master's degree in economics at the University of Ottawa. He maintains a blog where he comments on -- no surprise here -- issues of the day from an economist's point of view.

Most recently, Ross wrote about the case for light rail in Ottawa based on the conclusions of a paper entitled, “The Effects of New Urban Rail Transit: Evidence from Five Cities” [PDF].

Go ahead and read all of Ross' analysis, but if you want his conclusions -- keep reading.
In a broad sense, the paper and it’s framework make it clear to me that if you were to ignore the environmental and city density benefits of that could result from the development of urban light rail, there is still a compelling economic case for it to be built. Especially in cities like Ottawa where there is no (or almost no) light rail in existence and the benefits of reducing (or eliminating) congestion costs could be quite large in their own regard.
The reason I refer to Ross by his first name, by the way, is because I sit at the same table as him at least once a month on the Fulcrum's Board of Directors.

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