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Clean Transport light rail for dummies

Published on May 30th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan


Light Rail for Dummies {INFOGRAPHIC}

Light rail is a great clean transit solution that could help many cities improve their quality of life. It is growing in popularity across the U.S., but is still probably unknown and unseen by many. And I’m sure there are millions upon millions of people who would be hard-pressed to come up with an answer as to how light rail transportation (LRT) is different from commuter rail or streetcars/trams.

Very simply, light rail is somewhere in between those two, in the size of the trains, the distances they travel, and their typical speed. But, if you’re curious to know more, the great infographic below from Snapsort has a lot more info for you (presented in an aesthetically pleasing and fun way).

In particular, the focus is around the city of Waterloo, where Snapsort is based, and a potential LRT system there. Check it out (and if you’re in the Waterloo region, support LRT!):

(Note: my Master’s degree is in city & regional planning and I was the executive director of an organization focused on promoting clean transportation options like LRT and BRT, so I’ve studied these things in pretty good depth — Snapsort does a pretty awesome job of explaining all the key points in this infographic.)

click to enlarge

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he's the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.

  • BillW

    I’m all for light rail, but that “Tech Powerhouse” chart is a little misleading.  I’m pretty sure all those tech companies listed under San Francisco are located in Silicon Valley (Sunnyvale/Santa Clara/Palo Alto/San Jose area), which is NOT served, AFAIK, by ANY light rail, let alone by San Francisco’s Muni.  Even BART doesn’t go that far south.  They do have a heavy commuter line running to SF.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, i know, i noticed that :D (but wasn’t sure if any had been added
      since a lived in the region a few years ago)

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