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Abstract: Although urban rain transit (URT) is an attractive alterna-tive mode of daily travel, barriers exist in URT development across the world, in particular, the high cost of construction and operation and relative low rates of URT ridership. Despite these barriers, URT has gained considerable popularity worldwide in recent years; much of this trend is driven by projects in China. Despite this public support and implementation of URT projects, the ridership, capital costs and cost-effectiveness of URT projects remain largely unstudied. This paper ad-dresses this planning and policy issue by examining line-level ridership and investment data for 97 heavy rail transit (HRT) lines and 12 light rail transit (LRT) lines in 28 Chinese cities. Comparative analysis is conducted so as to evaluate the performance and cost-effectiveness of HRT and LRT. Multiple linear regression analysis is used to explain the variability of URT cost-effectiveness and how it varies depending on land use dens...