COMMENTS: Airlines Hurt, Light Rail Helped

ABC's lead on the woes of the airlines by Dan Harris (embargoed link) had an end-of-an-era mood. Cost savings in response to the high price of aviation fuel will mean thousands of lost jobs in the industry, the cancelation of service at 200 airports nationwide, he speculated, and increased fares to travel to surviving destinations. The upshot, industry analysts warned Harris, will be "a fundamental change in American air travel. It may mean the ability of middle class families to fly away on frequent vacations will be seriously curtailed."

NBC's Tom Costello countered with transportation that is benefiting from the high cost of fuel--the dawn of an era for light rail mass transit. In his Staying Afloat feature, Costello told us about Denver's system, "the national poster city for a mass transit vision." Starting from scratch 14 years ago, it already has 35 miles of light rail track and 38 stations with $6bn plans for 122 more miles and 57 more stations. Professor Yossi Sheffi of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology cautioned Costello not to generalize too much from Denver's example: the denser infrastructure of eastern cities mean that western metropolitan areas will find it easier to build systems.


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