What is a Light Rail Station?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Light rail transit is a type of mass transit popular in urban areas. Though typically run on electricity, some diesel-powered systems also identify themselves as light rail. Light rail systems are smaller and lighter than trains and often carry fewer passengers, but are usually more efficient and faster than other means of mass transportation such as buses. At a light rail station, passengers may get on and off trains or switch to alternate means of transport, as well as get information and use public facilities.

Light rail stations usually offer machines for purchasing tickets.
Light rail stations usually offer machines for purchasing tickets.

A light rail station is primarily meant as a stop for passengers to get on and off the train. Usually spaced at fairly even intervals along the train's route, these stations are meant to minimize travel distances for passengers. Some common places for a light rail station include public or civic centers, airports, ferry docks, and malls or shopping centers.

Typically, a light rail station will offer various options for purchasing train tickets. Some may have walk-up windows with tellers, while others feature automated systems. Light rail systems may have a variety of ticket options, from single or round trip tickets to weekly and monthly passes for frequent users. Be sure to inquire if there are discount rates for students, military personnel, seniors, or children. Many discount programs will require photo identification proving qualifications for the lower rate.

Unlike a train stations, which can be similar to an airport in size, a light rail station is often closer to a bus depot in design. Most are situated outdoors directly next to the railway, though many feature some type of overhang or covered area in case of bad weather. Keeping a light rail station simple and uncomplicated allows greater efficiency for trains and passengers, as it minimizes the risk of passengers getting confused or lost.

Even the most basic light rail station will typically offer some route and train information to passengers. Walls often feature full maps of the light rail system, and systems with multiple train routes may have both system and train line maps as well. Usually, information regarding the time and frequency of train arrivals is also present.

Light rail is an efficient and environmentally-friendly form of mass transit. With many stations conveniently placed near parking garages and major centers of business and activity, drivers can avoid the stress of traffic and use the train journey to relax, read, or catch up on work. By using light rail, city-dwellers can capitalize on time and lower their own stress level, all while participating in a low-pollution form of modern travel.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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