NPR reported yesterday on the growing interest in light rail.

It’s hard to find a city in America that isn’t planning, proposing, studying or actually building a light rail system. Cities as diverse as Dallas, Seattle and Washington, D.C., all see light rail as part of their future — a way to reshape their development.

“There are very few major metropolitan areas in the country that aren’t considering the installation of some sort of light rail system,” says Robert Puentes, a transportation expert at the Brookings Institution. He stresses that the car is still king, but says politicians, businessmen and developers are looking to light rail to help guide development.

“Light rail stops create nodes and create opportunities for denser development,” says Frampton. “So you don’t end up using up roads and using up sewers, and building new police stations and water lines and so on.”

Tom Clark, of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, says that when the conversations first began about mass transit, “it sounded a little bit too close to socialism for some of us.” What changed the business community’s mind, he says, were simple economics.

Various politicians and candidates have discussed light rail in Louisville, but others have dismissed it. The story points out that more cities are now turning to better transit in part to be more competitive for new jobs and residents. In DC, the trains are being expanded to serve unserved areas now, where access to cars is limited.

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