Talk:Light rail in North America/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3

Canadian Statistics Claims

Part 1

The claim is made that Canadian cities have higher transit use than their American counterparts and the comparison is made between Toronto and Philadelphia to prove this point. First of all, there is no reference given for the Toronto transit number, which may or may not be comparable to the APTA number for Philadelphia. Secondly, New Jersey transit carries a large number of Philadelphia metro area commuters, since half of the Philadelphia metro area is in New Jersey, yet the figure cited for Philadelphia excludes such ridership. Finally, Philadephia seems to have been selected by bias, since Washington DC is also a 5 million metro area with much higher ridership than Philadelphia. Once again, the respective Virginia and Maryland transit authorities would need to be included in the comparison, which would likely put the figure above 500 millon per annum. -- Arturoramos (talk) 14:12, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

A better source for use of public transportation by metro areas would be the U.S. Census American Community Survey, Table S0802 and comparing those figures (percentage of commutes by public transit) to StatCan "Commuting Patterns and Places of Work of Canadians, 2006 Census: Portrait of the largest census metropolitan areas in the country's regions." In 2006, 22.2% of commuters living in the Toronto CMA used public transit (compared to 22.4% in 2001), 4.8% walked (4.6% in 2001), 1.0% cycled (0.8% in 2001) and 0.9% used another mode of transportation (0.8% in 2001). Meanwhile, for the Washington, DC-Arlington, VA MSA, 14.2% commuted by public transit. One issue here might be the comparability of StatCan metro areas with Census MSAs. For example, the Washington DC MSA includes multiple counties in the District of Columbia and three states (Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia). The percentage using public transport in Washington, DC proper is 38.97%.
-- Arturoramos (talk) 01:55, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
Agree and appreciate your dilligence.--Loodog (talk) 04:14, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
The Canadian data actually was on the APTA web page cited, but apparently was relocated recently. I have fixed the citations in the article. Hopefully they won't change it again soon since it's hard to get comparable data on Canadian systems. Philadelphia was picked for the light rail article because it has a light rail system and Washington does not. If you do substitute Washington, it doesn't change the picture much because Washington had a 415 million transit riders in 2007, versus 772 million in Toronto - nearly twice as many. The fact that Virginia and Maryland transit systems are excluded also doesn't change the picture much either because the Toronto data excludes the GO Transit (Government of Ontario) system bringing commuters into Toronto from outside. There isn't much commuting across provincial boundaries because most Canadian provinces are much, much bigger than most US states. Washington DC proper is not really comparable to the City of Toronto proper because the former has 588,000 residents, the latter 2.5 million. However, Canadian CMAs are highly comparable to American MSAs, and Statcan has done that deliberately. Speaking of Statcan, their "Commuting Patterns and Places of Work" report makes the comment: Public transit was more frequently used in Canada's large metropolitan areas than in U.S. metropolitan areas, such as Boston or San Francisco (but less than in the New York area). RockyMtnGuy (talk) 06:29, 12 July 2008 (UTC)
If the Canadian CMAs are equivalent to the United States MSAs, then we should use the commuting data rather than the agency data. I am not disputing the contention, but rather the specific statistics used. You cannot compare a metro area with a single transit agency (Toronto) to a metro area with multiple transit agencies because it lies in multiple states (Philadelphia) and then exclude the ridership from one of those agencies. These are not passengers being brought from outside the metro area, i.e. if you live in Trenton and ride the bus to work you will ride a New Jersey Transit bus to work not a SEPTA bus. The census commute statistics are survey based and cover everyone in the respective metro areas.
--Arturoramos (talk) 16:40, 12 July 2008 (UTC)
At the point in time I put the data in the article, I don't think Statistics Canada had published its report and I was just looking for some comparable data to illustrate an obvious point. Just now I added a graph and some additional text based on StatCan data to the article. But I don't think it makes any significant difference to the overall picture. For instance, let's compare national capitals. You say that Washington DC has a metro population of 5 million and that 14.2% commute by public transit. If you look at the StatCan report for the Ottawa/Gatineau Ontario/Quebec National Capital Region, you will see it has a metro population of 1.2 million and a 19.4% rate of public transit use. So, a much smaller capital, similarly split across sub-national boundaries, has a higher rate of transit use. In order to see transit use percentages comparable to metropolises such as Chicago or Boston, you have to look at much smaller CMAs such as Halifax (283,000 people) or Victoria (330,000 people). The bottom line is that Canadians just use public transit much more than Americans (outside of New York City, of course). I've been in many of the cities mentioned and the difference really does jump out at you. RockyMtnGuy (talk) 04:46, 13 July 2008 (UTC)
Yes, as I said, the contention is correct, the statistics currently in the article are not since they exclude a large portion of transit riders for Philadelphia. Also the contention that New York is unique in North America for its high transit ridership is incorrect. I believe that both Guadalajara and Monterrey have transit ridership figures that are similar, i.e. above 50% and I believe Mexico City is actually above 70%, much higher than New York City. If you don't object, I will change the statistics you cite with the US Census and StatCan commute survey figures. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:13, 13 July 2008 (UTC)
"They exclude a large portion of transit riders for Philadelphia"
  • The Philadelphia MSA is bigger than the Toronto MSA, so what happens if you remove the surplus out-of-state population from Philadelphia, add the transit ridership in the remaining counties in New Jersey and correct Toronto for ridership on non-TTC transit systems in the Toronto area? Odds are there's no significant change.
  • Or, if you want a comparable census area that doesn't cross state boundaries, pick Houston, which has metropolitan population is bigger than Toronto, but has fewer buses than Calgary, a city less than 1/5 its size. Your choice.
"New York is unique in North America"
  • You corrected this to "New York is unique in the United States", which is true. It is also true that Mexico city is unique in Mexico, and both are vastly larger than any city in Canada. I'm not going to offer any opinion on which has more transit riders.
"Guadalajara and Monterrey have transit ridership figures that are similar, i.e. above 50%"
  • Who says so and what do they mean by that? Does a privately-owned Toyota minivan with 17 people in it count as "public transit"? (I actually enjoy riding in a minivan with 16 Mexicans, but I want to know if I'm part of the 50%)
  • Statistics Canada figures are highly reliable and have been deliberately selected to correspond to U.S. data. However, I'm not so sure about Mexican statistics. Are they any good, or should we try to avoid them. RockyMtnGuy (talk) 03:02, 14 July 2008 (UTC)
Houston's a particularly flagrant example of low transit usage (5%)[1]. Also, I don't quite understand your statement about comparing Philadelphia and Toronto. Both MSAs are about 6 million. Philadelphia has SEPTA (1,000,000) and New Jersey Transit (857,000 though this is split with NYC) serving it, both of which make an appreciable contribution. GO Transit carries something like 200,000 on top of 2.5 million from TTC.
We could also do Boston, which is unfettered by out-of-state agencies. Its metro area is 4.4 million and has 1.1 million daily rides. Chicago's is all in-state, but has a metro pop of 9.8 million, not the best for comparison, but with 2 million daily rides.
There's a trend, at least for US cities against Toronto, but it's not orders of magnitude. The kind of comparison you're making is true, but only seems particularly applicable for the newer, more "American" cities of Houston, Dallas, LA, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego where the car is king.--Loodog (talk) 03:40, 14 July 2008 (UTC)
No, it's not orders of magnitude. As I said somewhere before someone probably deleted it, large Canadian cities typically have about twice the transit ridership of similarly-sized American cities, and medium-sized cities about 3 times. This is not a huge difference, but some Americans seem to have a problem with it. However, now that they've almost got the horse manure cleaned off the streets after the Calgary Stampede, let me mention that not only does Calgary have more transit riders (535,000 daily rides) than any of the aforementioned newer, more "American" cities except Los Angeles (which is 12 times as big), it also has a bigger rodeo than any of them. RockyMtnGuy (talk) 06:44, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
  • I have not been able to find any recent commute surveys for Monterrey or Guadalajara from primary sources, i.e. I have only found articles quoting privately conducted surveys so I won't make any declarations as to what the precise numbers are for those cities, but they are smaller than Toronto (the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area has a population of about 4 million) and all articles point to public transit use above 50%. As for Mexico City, INEGI (equivalent of Census or StatCan for Mexico, which I would venture to say are as reliable as any StatCan figures) did a survey in 2007 for the Valley of Mexico metro area, i.e. the Federal District and surrounding suburbs in the State of Mexico, equivalent to an MSA... the results are available here. 14.8 million trips a day on public transit and 6.8 million in private vehicles.
  • Whether a minibus is privately owned or not does not determine whether it is public transit. In many parts of the world (Asia in particular) the metro systems, bus systems and commuter rail systems are all privately owned, but they are still public transit in the sense that they provide transportation to the general public for a fee. The concept of government owned transportation is a very European-American-Canadian one largely because the public transit in Europe and North America is not profitable due to subsidization of driving and low city densities. In high density countries with high tolls and fuel taxes like Hong Kong and Japan, many companies, i.e. MTR Corporation in Hong Kong, JR East, JR West, Keihan, etc. in Japan are companies listed on stock exchanges that privately own and operate subways, buses, commuter rail lines, etc. So yes, if you got in a privately owned Toyota minivan in Mexico City with 16 people you didn't know and paid a fare to the minivan driver you used public tranport. I admit it is not as glamorous as riding a light rail but it is public tranport nevertheless. In Mexico City that makes up more than half of the public transit use.
  • I reiterate Loodog's comments on Philadelphia. We are not talking about whether to include or exclude commuter rail from the Philadelphia number. It is merely a matter of a metro area that is in two states and therefore has a public transit system operated by two agencies and you are only including one agency in the statistics you cite. It's as if Hull, Quebec operated a transit system seperate from Ottawa, Ontario, you included the entire metro area population (including Hull) but left out the Hull system's ridership. Same here in DC where I live. The Disrict of Columbia and one county in Virginia (Arlington) operate a joint transit agency (WMATA), but the other metro-area counties in Maryland and Virginia operate their own local bus agencies such as Montgomery County Ride-On and Fairfax County DOT (except for the metro rail which is operated by WMATA in all counties) in addition to the states of Virginia and Maryland which operate long distance buses and commuter rail agencies.
--Arturoramos (talk) 15:13, 14 July 2008 (UTC)

Part 2

You Americans are notorious for trying to impose your world-view on the rest of the world. The fact is that almost all developed countries have much higher urban public transit ridership than the United States, and Canada is no exception. You seem to have a problem with this idea, apparently because you don't do much world traveling. The point I was attempting to make in this article was that most major Canadian cities have transit riderships in the range of 2 to 3 times those of comparable U.S. cities. The relevance to the light rail article was that most major Canadian cities are running out of capacity on their transit systems, and light rail is one of the proposed solutions to those capacity problems. The idea of comparing them to similarly-sized U.S. cities with light rail systems was only to illustrate that the capacity problems are more severe in Canada. Modifying charts so they show the transit ridership in quaint little seaside cities like Halifax and Victoria doesn't contribute to the article, because they are hardly in need of rail transit systems even though their per capita rate of transit usage rivals that of Chicago and Boston. I'm trying to stay on topic in this article.

  • In a sense, no U.S. city is comparable to any Canadian city because Canadian governments do not allow their cities to get as disorganized as U.S. cities. I was just trying to pick something of similar size to illustrate the similarities and differences, with the intention to evaluate how feasible a solution light rail is to their transit problems.
  • When I picked Philadelphia to compare to Toronto, I did so because it is an older, northeastern city with a light rail system. I was using a less extensive definition of Philadelphia than you are (there are several different ones in use) to get a population close to 5 million, since Toronto actually has a metro population of 5.1 million, not 6 million.
  • According to my sources, the only two cities with a higher number of transit riders than Toronto in North America are New York City and Mexico City. So, it doesn't really matter which other city you pick, Toronto will have a higher transit ridership. You could compare Los Angeles or Chicago, and Toronto would still have more riders. There are a large number of cities in the U.S. of a similar size to Toronto. These include Miami, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Boston, Houston, Washington, Atlanta, and Detroit. All have lower transit riderships, some a tiny fraction, but again my intention was to compare cities with similarly developed transit systems. Many of the aforementioned cities have fewer public transit riders than Calgary, never mind Toronto.
  • Your Mexican statistics are highly dubious, and your contention that Mexican statistics are as reliable as StatsCan even more dubious. The Mexican government just isn't as organized and in control of things as those in advanced industrial countries. They aren't really sure how many people actually live in Mexico City, never mind how many of them ride public transit.
  • Counting ad-hoc transportation using privately owned minibuses (technically known as share-taxis or jitneys) as public transit in Mexico turns it into an apples versus oranges comparison since we aren't counting these things as public transit in the U.S. and Canada (even though they do exist). Jitneys are popular in the third world simply because these countries don't have the resources to provide a modern, sophisticated public transit system. It's not even close to being relevant in an article on light rail.
  • You commented: It's as if Hull, Quebec operated a transit system separate from Ottawa, Ontario, you included the entire metro area population (including Hull) but left out the Hull system's ridership. - It's not as if there was a separate system on the Quebec side, there is a separate system on the Quebec side (called la Société de transport de l'Outaouais). And yes, I did leave it out of the ridership count, not that it makes much difference to this article. Nobody is talking about running a light rail system into Hull-Gatineau.

RockyMtnGuy (talk) 04:52, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

RockyMtnGuy, I don't think such ad hominem attacks have a place on Wikipedia. If you disagree with the factual information that we are putting up on this article, please explain your contention and we can go from there. I think you are going out on a limb making statements like "you Americans" who "don't do much world traveling" without knowing much about the people with whom you are collaborating here. Some points of clarification:
  • The Philadelphia MSA (which includes most of the southern half on New Jersey) has a population of 5.9 million per U.S. Census data. The Washington DC metro area (which includes northern Virginia, Eastern West Virginia and Southern Maryland) has a population of 5.3 million. The Toronto CSA has a population of 5.1 million per StatCan. Can you explain what more limited definition of Philadelphia you were using and why it wasn't qualified in your description? The New Jersey counties that are part of the Philadelphia MSA (Mercer, Burlington, Camden, Glouscester and Salem) have a combined population of 1.7 million. Newcastle county in Delaware (also part of the MSA not served by SEPTA) has an additional 525,000. So the SEPTA-served part of the Philadelphia MSA has a population of only 3.6 million.
  • Can you provide support for the contention that Mexican statistics from INEGI are highly dubious? The INEGI survey I cite had a statistical sample of 46,500 households interviewed in person (so as to take away any bias of phone ownership, etc). I am sure that is at least as many as StatCan interviewed in Toronto and I am sure that StatCan did not do the interviews in person. Believe it or not, doing a survey is much easier than trying to count every person in a geographic area, that is why surveys such as the American Community Survey are published by the U.S. Census every year and the population census is only done every ten years.
  • Privately owned and operated Metrobus in Mexico City
    Share taxis exist in places like Hong Kong (where I lived for an extended period) and the government there does not at this point operate ANY public transportation, as the few rail lines it owns have been concessioned to private operators. Are you telling me that Hong Kong does not have sufficient resources to provide a sophisticated public transport system? I've seen it and ridden it as I have Toronto's and I think Hong Kong wins hands down. Furthermore, share taxis in Mexico City have recently come under regulation and are not as ad-hoc as you would think. Routes are fixed, as are fares. Also, the new bus rapid transit lines in the city are owned and operated by private operators (ex-share-taxi owners who would otherwise be put out of business). Should those be excluded? The share-taxi whether out of necessity or not is simply a different form of public transportation than what exists in most of Canada and the United States.
  • The chart I made was very methodological. I ranked the top ten metro areas by public transport use for each country... simple as that. Funny that your chart was missing Washington DC altogether. I think the fact that small cities like Halifax are ranked among large cities like Chicago helps make your point. Tell me if I am missing something. I wholeheartedly agree that outside of New York, the Unites States has lower public transport use than Canada, and most countries (whether developed or not). My only contention was the fact that the statistics being used to demonstrate this point were not accurate. If you believe that the statistics I have put up are less accurate, please explain to me how. You are welcome to add back Philadelphia to the comparison to Toronto, but leaving out Washington DC altogether I think would be biased.
--Arturoramos (talk) 13:54, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
I'm sorry if I offended you by my outburst. I've been suffering a certain amount of frustration lately because most of my editing has been on articles on petroleum (I have 35 years of experience in the industry), and the recent run-up in oil prices has attracted large numbers of editors who know little or nothing about the oil industry, but who are highly opinionated about it. My interest in public transit is secondary: based on my work on world oil reserves, I concluded that people are going to do a lot less driving in coming years, and by inference they are going to have to use public transit a lot more. And it would help a great deal if they used a form of public transit that did not depend on oil products - e.g. light rail.
  • The transit system for Philadelphia may be fragmented, but you seem to believe that the Toronto system is not similarly fragmented. In fact, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) has at least 8 different transit operators, of which the largest is the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). I only quoted numbers for the TTC, so benchmarking it against SEPTA is probably a fair comparison. I wasn't up to doing an analysis of whether the TTC catchment area has more or fewer people than the SEPTA catchment area, but I think it's probably smaller than 3.6 million.
  • About 1 million people in the Toronto area would have answered the commuting to work question in 2006. Canada conducts a universal census every 5 years, rather than 10 as in the US. The last one was in 2006 and the next will be in 2011. A randomly selected sample of 20% of the population gets the long form, which has another 53 questions (including the commuting question) in addition to the 8 in the short form. People return their forms by mail or e-mail, but StatsCan does personal interviews of the homeless people in downtown cores, people in remote areas without mail, and those who don't return their forms. This is all in the interest of data quality. Unfortunately the U.S. Census doesn't match these standards, but in general they do the best they can. I don't know much about the Mexican census, but the Mexican government just doesn't have the money to do the same kind of thing, and anecdotal reports suggest that their coverage is rather spotty. And it's not publicly available on an official internet site as far as I can tell.
  • The problem with classifying jitneys as "public transit" is that both StatsCan and the U.S. census define them as private automobiles and report them as such in their studies. You thus end up making the study data non-comparable between Canada/US and Mexico. Disagreeing with official statistical standards also suggests you have a political agenda which is at variance with government policy in those two countries, and violates the WP:NPOV policy.
  • The talk about private public transit also suggests a political agenda (pushing privatization as a solution). It's true that Toronto has some problems and is trying to sort them out (That's discussed elsewhere on Wikipedia.) But I don't see that Hong Kong's approach is that applicable because Toronto (like many North American cities but unlike Hong Kong) has suburbs that spread like a contagious disease and any viable transit system will have to involve at least some government control and subsidization. The point behind comparing it to NYC is that Toronto is running out of capacity on its subway lines, never mind its light rail systems, and the question arises whether or not light rail could handle the passenger load.
  • The StatsCan graph I based my graph on covered the five largest Canadian cities and "selected American cities". Unlike in the U.S., Canadian government reports are copyrighted, but I can easily reproduce them from the original census data (raw data cannot be copyrighted in Canada). I don't know what criteria StatsCan used to select the American cities, but it probably involved a random selection of typical cities. Washington D.C. was probably excluded because it was not typical (it's federally controled and 5 times the size of Ottawa). My selection of cities from StatsCan selection was to reduce the size of the graph based mostly on whether they had light rail systems or not. Washington does not. This is, after all, supposed to be an article on light rail systems, not a general attempt to rank cities based on differences in transit usage.
RockyMtnGuy (talk) 12:54, 17 July 2008 (UTC)

I think the chart up there now summarizes it in a pretty noncontroversial way.--Loodog (talk) 14:01, 15 July 2008 (UTC)NorthAmericanPublicTransport.png

The problem with the chart is that it introduces a substantial sample bias into the discussion. The bias results from the fact that, on average, the Canadian cities in the sample are much, much smaller than the American cities. Look at Victoria, British Columbia. Although it may have a greater percentage of people riding transit than Philadelphia, it is only 1/18 the size. Some other things you may not know about Victoria which make it atypical:
  • In Victoria, more people walk to work (10.4%) than take public transit (10.2%)
  • In Victoria, almost as high a percentage cycle to work (5.6%) as take public transit in Los Angeles (6.4%)
  • In Victoria, many people counted as using public transit were riding on ferries from other islands
Other than introducing sample biases into the article, there are a number of other logical fallacies in the above discussion, and Wikipedia has articles on many of them, so let me point you to them for your further illumination:
I could go on and on and on about the topic of logical fallacies, but perhaps I should stop here. RockyMtnGuy (talk) 18:36, 17 July 2008 (UTC)
Well what if you had a bar graph before that one of the largest transportation systems by absolute numbers, and then arranged those same "largest systems" by percentage of workers? That or you could have "percentage of people that get to work by private car", although I don't think that would be as appropriate for this article. Incidentally, shouldn't the graph be of "light rail use" in all these cities rather than public transportation? Is there a public transportation in North America article? TastyCakes (talk) 18:50, 17 July 2008 (UTC)
The APTA web site has ridership numbers for most of the light rail systems in the U.S. and Canada, but Arturoramos doesn't seem to believe APTA numbers. I found some U.S. census data indicating that in 2005, 4.7% of Americans used public transit to get to work, while StatsCan indicates that in 2006, 11% of Canadians used public transit to get to work. That's a percentage 2.34 times as high in Canada as in the U.S., which would be consistent with everything else I found. RockyMtnGuy (talk) 04:25, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
Well I think you're totally right, but shouldn't this article be concerned with usage rates of light rail rather than public transit in general? I guess you're talking about the passing mention in the header... Is there not a good source showing that Canadian use of public transit is higher than the US? Does it really have to get into a city to city comparison for an article not even on public transit in general? TastyCakes (talk) 15:59, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
Correct, it should be concerned with usage rates of light rail. The original point was that transit usage in Canadian cities is (on average) about 2 or 3 times as high as transit usage in the U.S. This probably sounds reasonable to most Canadians, but apparently some people in the U.S. do not believe it. Since it was challenged, and at that time Statistics Canada had not come out with its commuting survey, I tossed in a few examples from the American Public Transportation Authority (APTA) to illustrate (e.g. Toronto vs Philadelphia which sounded pretty comparable). Now that Statistics Canada has done its analysis, one could simply divide Canadian census numbers by U.S. census number and come up with a number (2.3) that confirms the original claim. However, the Canadian ridership documents were recently moved on the APTA web site, consequently the references were challenged by Americans who could not find them, and the article was somehow edited into an analysis of the relative transit ridership of metro Toronto versus metro Philadelphia versus New York City versus Mexico City - which is completely beside the point. The point is that - given the higher ridership - capacity limits are more important on Canadian systems than U.S. ones, so light rail systems are more viable in smaller cities (e.g. Calgary, which has a higher ridership than any LRT system in the U.S.). This point has been completely lost. RockyMtnGuy (talk) 19:39, 22 July 2008 (UTC)
No, I'm convinced there's a trend, even for old-fashioned American cities vs. Canadian cities. An interesting plot, though, would be transit usage vs. city population for the 6 Canadian cities over 1 million in MSA and superimpose the same plot for the 51 American cities over 1 million in MSA. Find out where the Canadian's fall, I'd assume below and to the right of the American trendline.--Loodog (talk) 21:06, 22 July 2008 (UTC)
It would be an interesting exercise. Assuming you plot transit usage on the X axis and population on the Y axis, what you should get is a large scattering of American cities extending from the left hand side toward the middle, a separate cluster of Canadian cities along the the lower right hand corner, and NYC all by itself in the upper right hand corner. RockyMtnGuy (talk) 22:55, 22 July 2008 (UTC)
RockyMtnGuy, Can you please point me to where I have never stated that I do not believe APTA numbers. In fact the table with light rail ridership is largely based on APTA numbers and I have raised no objection to their use there or anywhere else. The only objection that raised was to your use of APTA numbers was that you were citing riderhip figures for one of the two major Philadelphia metro area transit agencies as though they were the totality of transit ridership in that metro area when the other tranit agency is substantial, i.e. nearly a million transit riders a day. It seems we are going around in circles here. I have never objected to your statement that Canadians on average use public tranport more than Americans. The rewritting that I did of the section still states this. You are more than welcome to cite the overall average public transport use statistic to make your point. For comparison of 2006 to 2006 statistics, the 2006 statistic for public tranport use from the American Community Survey is 4.83% (6.7 million out of 138.3 million workers).
-- (talk) 16:18, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
Well if you believed the APTA numbers, why did you delete them? My main problem with your edits is that, in addition to doing too much logic chopping and introducing too many statistical errors, you are taking the article off-topic. This article is about light rail, not public transportation in general. I don't care that metro Philadelphia has 2 major transit agencies (metro Toronto has 8), I don't care how many people ride jitneys in Guadalajara. I am looking for statistically comparable data relevant to light rail. For instance, the Mexican data you cited apparently includes jitneys as public transportation, whereas U.S. and Canadian census data specifically excludes them from that category, and that makes the data basically non-comparable from a statistical standpoint in addition to being irrelevant to the Canadian subsection. (Also, could you log on before replying. I can see from your IP that you are in Maryland, latitude 39.0268N longitude 77.212W, that your ISP is Comcast, there are 2.68 persons per household in your neighborhood, they're almost all white, and the average house price is $446,000 but I can't really be sure who you are.:-)) RockyMtnGuy (talk) 20:26, 22 July 2008 (UTC)
I did not delete the APTA numbers, the relevant APTA numbers for light rail are there in the table and are now all correctly cited. My neighbor's ISP (whose WiFi I use) is Comcast but neither of us lives in Maryland. We both live in the District of Columbia (which by the way is NOT Federally controlled since the District was given self-rule in 1974). The population in my neighborhood is far from white, as am I... but that is beside the point. The text I deleted was no more on-topic about light rail than I what I inserted. It was merely an blurb about comparative transit use rates... not a single mention about light rail. I quote:
In general, Canadian cities have much higher public transit use than comparable U.S. cities. For instance, in 2007 Toronto, Ontario (metropolitan population 5 million) had 772 million transit riders, whereas Boston had 371 million and Philadelphia had 313 million. The difference is even more pronounced for medium-sized cities. In 2007 Calgary, Alberta and Edmonton, Alberta (metro population 1 million each) had public transit riderships of 144 million and 98 million respectively, while comparably sized Salt Lake City, Utah located due south of them had less than 36 million riders.
My point about Philadelphia is that New Jersey Transit is a very significant transit provider in the Philadelphia metro area. I doubt any of Toronto's other 8 agencies have 1 million riders a day or operate rapid transit and subway systems the way New Jersey transit does in Camden and Trenton. So both the Toronto and Philadelphia figures you quoted were incorrect because they left out ancillary transit agencies... I merely replaced them with figures that were more correct.
Can you point me to where the U.S. Census data counts privately owned minibuses as not being public transport? I can't seem to find an applicable category in the American Community Survey. INEGI clearly counts them as public transport, so your rejection of INEGI's classification is a violation of NPOV. INEGI likely counts them as such in order to make city-to-city comparisons in Mexico comparable, since cities such as Guadalajara or Leon do not have shared taxi bus service (jitneys) as the former has a limited number of public bus service concessionaires and the latter has a municipally operated bus system, whereas Mexico City has no government owned or operated bus system other than the very limited trolleybus agency. Thus peseros which are basically concessioned bus routes... serviced by buses ranging in capacity from 30 to 60 persons with fixed routes and fares regulated by the government. So if they are excluded from public transportation statistics Mexico City would in effect have no bus riders. If you see the pesero article, it clearly describes them as public transport.
Why are comparable Mexican statistics not relevant to a section on Canada but U.S. statistics are? Small cities such as Aguascalientes in Mexico are also considering light rail because their share-taxi or bus services are also very strained and because they see the success of the systems in other cities. Monterrey's system will surpass Calgary's this year with the increase in ridership from the extension that partially opened in June and will finish opening in the next couple of months.
I have all of the StatCan and U.S. Census population and public transport use rate data and can do an XY plot. I agree with Loodog that it would be very interesting. Perhaps we can throw in major Mexican cities as well. :)
--Arturoramos (talk) 00:28, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

Part 3

Let's cut to the chase. What I really want to say is:

In general, Canadian cities have rates of public transit use which are two to three times as high as U.S. cities. Census data for 2006 shows that 11.0% of Canadians use public transit to commute to work, compared to 4.8% of Americans. This means that transportation planners must allow for higher passenger volumes on Canadian transit systems than American ones.

And that basically is enough for this subsection, which is supposed to be about light rail in Canada. The rest of it is extraneous detail. The relative size and layout of metropolitan areas is not really relevant, particularly not that of Toronto. As far as comparisons with Mexico are concerned, Canada and the United States are extremely affluent, technologically advanced first world countries, founding members of the G8 group of countries that combined have 65% of the world's wealth. Mexico is a much less affluent third world country that does not have their wealth and must make do with whatever it can afford. Adding privately-operated ad-hoc minibuses to public transit ridership numbers doesn't offer any lessons other than to illustrate that the Mexican people can't afford to buy cars and the Mexican government can't afford to buy buses. It may make some political point, but I'm not sure it's one that is relevant to this article. Statistics Canada likes to compare Canadian cities to U.S. cities mainly because they are comparable, and the data is useful for government decision-makers (they could copy the U.S., or they could do something completely different, given the amount of money available). Putting Mexican shared taxi numbers into the graph pushes all the Canadian and U.S. cities into the bottom half, and putting the large number of U.S. cities into a sub-graph in the blank space that creates obscures the fact that it is supposed to be about Canada. It really needs to go into some other article. RockyMtnGuy (talk) 00:51, 24 July 2008 (UTC)

I think we've concluded. Take a look at ArturoRamos's new chart:


The only major problems are
  1. Canadian cities under 1 million are included, but not American ones, though I can definitely understand your not wanting to put another 150 points on the graph when we know where they'll all go.
  2. That log scale again, though I don't mind that much since the percentage scale is linear, and percentage is really the thing being compared here.
Anyway, nice job. It's interesting to see.--Loodog (talk) 02:33, 24 July 2008 (UTC)
RockyMtnGuy, I agree that the chart belongs somewhere other than this article and I have removed it and replaced my text with your text which I think makes the point very succinctly and clearly, not to mention with accurate statistics. I appreciate the banter as I have learned a lot and it has motivate me to do some data collection and graphing that I might not otherwise have done.
Loodog, I apolgize for my prepensity for log scaling things. I am an economist by training and so many relationships are log-linear (this one in particular) that I like seeing the relationship on a graph. I had truncated my U.S. dataset, because as you mentioned, the remaining cities have such low transit use rates I didn't think they were relevant. I think I will reconstruct the dataset down to 1 million for all three countries and redo the graph, both linear and log scale on the population and see what it looks like.
--Arturoramos (talk) 02:51, 24 July 2008 (UTC)
I think that chart is very interesting, if there's ever a "public transportation in North America" article made I think it would be a great inclusion. TastyCakes (talk) 21:28, 24 July 2008 (UTC)
Wait, where are you getting your numbers from because public transport puts NYC at 58%, and in fact, 6 US cities above 25%? Why doesn't this match?--Loodog (talk) 02:45, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
Loodog, these figures are for metro areas (US Census MSAs and StatCan CMAs) as opposed to city-proper only figures. StatCan only has CMA public transit use figures published so we used the Census equivalent for this chart. US Census allows the data to be downloaded on at the MSA, City, State level... the other chart is based on city-level data. Since the major cities in MSAs are the most dense and usually the hubs of the public transport system, they will have higher transit use numbers than the metro areas as a whole.
--Arturoramos (talk) 15:10, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
There's a classic book on statistical and how they can be used and misused, called How to Lie with Statistics by Darrel Huff, that everyone needs to read before trying to interpret these kinds of statistics. See: In this case it's a matter of definitions, but there are all kinds of funky games people can play with statistics to prove anything they want to. 15:17, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

System list ordering

"Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, San Diego..." is there any reason for the lack of order of the systems? Should not they be alphabetical?

They're listed by ridership.--Loodog (talk) 16:27, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

Usage of light rail in North America

The Canadian ridership figures in the article now reflect first-quarter 2009 data from APTA.

Also, the APTA quarterly ridership reports have been substantially reconfigured. All current and archived reports are now linked from the new landing page at and incorporate both US and Canadian data--a timesaver and a relief to everyone involved, I'm sure. Beltliner (talk) 23:27, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

Rail Runner

Does New Mexico Rail Runner Express count as Diesel light rail? Dogru144 (talk) 18:40, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

No, it is standard railroad locomotives hauling standard railroad coaches, running on a regular railroad. Wlindley (talk) 00:39, 15 March 2010 (UTC)