The continued expansion of US light rail transit during a period of petroleum price increases presents a benchmark convergence of two long term trends in the country’s public transit systems. This research examines these trends by analyzing the relationship between normal fluctuations in fuel prices and transit usage between January 2002 and April 2008 in eight major US cities. This study focuses on the effects on light rail ridership of fuel prices, and compares them to other modes. The results suggest a significant inelastic increase in unlinked passenger trips due to fuel costs, and light-rail appears to stand-out especially when compared to bus modes. Reasons behind this phenomena and implications for the future of light rail in a scenario of long-term fuel cost increases are discussed.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/bradleywlane/7/