Thursday, February 11, 2010

ChooChoo Costs? Who Knows?

It's about $810 million to install the Doylet ChooChoo Line.

To operate it for the next several generations of taxpayers?

Nobody really knows for sure; the current DOT guess is $8.5 million/year.

People around the country are asking the same question about operating costs for rail lines, said Laura Kliewer, director of the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission. There really isn’t an answer, she said, because the federal government did not start investing large amounts of money into high-speed rail until 2009.

In other words, comparisons to Amtrak (a big-time loser) are off the table.

According to the United States Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics, rail and mass transit are considerably more subsidized on a per passenger-mile basis by the federal government than other forms of transportation; the subsidy varies year to year, but exceeds $100 dollars (in 2000 dollars) per thousand passenger-miles, compared to subsidies around $10 per thousand passenger-miles for aviation (with general aviation subsidized considerably more per passenger-mile than commercial aviation), subsidies around $4 per thousand passenger-miles for intercity buses, and automobiles being a small net contributor through the gas tax and other user fees rather than being subsidized.

Some people don't really give a damn:

The $8.2 million annual estimate is good enough for Terry McGowan, business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139.

“I’m opposed to anything coming out of the transportation fund other than for the purpose of road building, but I do see this as a great project to put our people to work,” he said. “And I don’t worry about the maintenance and operating costs any more than I would the maintenance or operating costs of highway.

But there IS a difference, Terry. Nationally, the fuel tax actually takes in MORE than is required to maintain and build highways. If the Doylet Line follows Amtrak's pattern, your children will be pissing on your grave for what you did to them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

there are other benefits provided by passenger rail which are not mentioned in this diatribe.