Portland is the poster child for light rail "success," but this is an interesting definition of success:
"Many (Portlanders) use their public transportation system," says
Weyrich. In fact, 9.8 percent of Portland-area commuters took transit
to work before the region build light rail. Today it is just 7.6
percent. In a story repeated in numerous cities that have built rail
lines, rail cost overruns forced the city to raise bus fares and reduce
bus service. That's a success?
A lot more money for fewer total transit riders. This is absolutely predictable. Light rail creates huge investment along one single route. The assets created are totally inflexible -- unlike buses, they can only run one single route. For most western cities with low density and literally hundreds of different commuting routes this way and that, light rail is silly. Here are a couple of analysis I did for Albuquerque, LA and Phoenix. Here is more about Portland.