For part of the time that I lived in San Jose, Calif., my apartment was downtown, across the street from a light rail station. I used to take the train to work, which was great for the first 80 percent of the ride: The car was almost always near-empty as it chugged along down the middle of streets, passing dozens of automobiles at each stop light. When I reached the stop closest to my office, I'd get off -- and start the 20-minute walk in, having to either walk well out of my way or, if I was in a hurry, dash across a busy highway with no crosswalk. It was an hour's journey, easily, for a trip that took 10 minutes by car without traffic.
My friend Michael and I took to calling the light rail "the Buzz," both because it sounded confusingly like "the bus," which amused us, and because it implied a speedy, futuristic system, which the light rail very much is not. A guy I knew who worked with the union that represented bus and light rail operators called it the "ghost train," since you'd often see it passing by at night, lit up and empty.
The Atlantic Cities' Eric Jaffe has a good look at the light rail as it celebrates its 25th anniversary. From his article: