Being expensive to build, light rail can only reach parts of a region and thus most people have to drive to a park‐and‐ride station or transfer from a bus to train and back, thus lengthening the time of their trip. By comparison, for less money, rapid buses, which often rely on dedicated bus lanes to bypass traffic, can reach every corner of an urban area.
Modern buses can also come equipped with WiFi and other amenities, making them even more attractive to riders. And while it would appear that light rail can transport more people per day, the opposite is true. A single light‐rail car can hold about 150 people, and in most cities three can be strung together in a train holding 450. By comparison, the biggest buses hold only a few more than 100 people. For safety reasons, however, most light‐rail lines can support only about 20 trains an hour in each direction, while city streets can serve more than 160 buses per hour, giving the buses a huge capacity advantage. Where an expensive light‐rail line can move about 9,000 people per hour, an inexpensive bus route can move nearly twice that many on city streets and many times more on a freeway lane.