Good statistics: #STL has 10th busiest (REAL) light rail system in nation, in 18th largest metro area. We should all be proud as hell.— Frank DeGraaf (@countondowntown) June 6, 2012
Now I’m a believer in St. Louis’s MetroLink as an efficient and effective light-rail transit system, but I also understand that it has its limitations. Which is why I’m calling out The Count’s statistic as misleading.
Count On Downtown’s light-rail statistic comes from this Wikipedia article which is based on data from the APTA. Per the article, MetroLink is in fact the 10th busiest light-rail system in the country. As recently as 2008, MetroLink was ranked 7th (Dallas, Denver, and Salt Lake City have since surpassed St. Louis).
But just because they don’t have light-rail systems doesn’t mean that St. Louis is better than New York or DC. To measure only light-rail systems against each other ignores the fact that they often operate as a part of a larger transit network in a metropolitan region. When taking the total of all rail-based transit systems (minus commuter rail) in a metro area, St. Louis ranks 16th only just punching above it’s own weight in terms of population.
And with expansion of the MetroLink system stalled for the foreseeable future (Hello! Missouri legislature!), St. Louis’s ranking will likely fall to 21st in as little as 5 years.
The table below summarizes the top 25 rail-based transit systems excluding commuter rail, but combining totals from separate metropolitan transit agencies (e.g. Philadelphia). Cities marked with a caret symbol will likely eclipse St. Louis in the next 5 years.
|15||Salt Lake City||57,200||1,124,197||47|