Los Angeles Neighborhood News

Los Angeles Metro Rail Among Country's Most Expensive to Operate

Urbanize recently dug into figures from the National Transit Database and other sources to determine exactly how expensive it is to run Los Angeles’s Metro Rail system vs. similar transportation options in cities around the country and the world.

As it ends up, LA is among the most expensive to operate both nationally and worldwide.

The numbers show that the young (27-year old) rail system costs $19 per mile to operate, and $395 per hour. Comparatively, the Bay Area’s BART costs $8 per mile, though $300 per hour. Chicago’s L is $8 per mile as well, but just $145 per hour. The only system to cost more money is PATH, which runs from New York to Jersey City, costing $30 per mile and $595 per hour to run.

This glaring issue of cost to the city only begins to scratch the surface of public transportation woes in LA as well. Metro ridership is down nearly 19 percent over the last four years, which isn’t going to help offset those high operational budgets. Recent rail line expansion projects have connected expansive outposts of the system, but that only serves to potentially increase the cost of operation as well.

With one of the nation’s largest counties by square mileage, the distance factor is one that would drive up costs, but ultimately can’t be reconciled with in LA. The proposed Link US project is one way that LA could at least improve efficiency and potentially increase to more local stops as well.

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