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Why not public transportation? Here's why. (1 Viewer)

Andy Dufresne

Footballguy
Up until a month ago, this was of big interest to me as it ran right by where I live now. Now that I'm moving, not so much.

Regardless, public transportation is a bad idea because it ends up costing way too much for the benefit it brings and people around here just do not adopt it very well.

Ballooning costs.

Next stop for Northstar's cost estimate: $307 million

Federal concerns have driven up the commuter rail project's price tag by another $18 million, the second rise in four months.

Laurie Blake, Star Tribune

Last update: April 17, 2006 – 9:38 PM

Printer friendly E-mail this story 

In this 2004 photo, a freight train passes beneath the Round Lake Blvd. overpass in Coon Rapids along the proposed route of the Northstar Corridor commuter rail line. The cost estimate for Minnesota's first commuter train has ballooned by $42 million since November, 2005.

JIM GEHRZ, STAR TRIBUNE

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The cost estimate for Minnesota's first commuter train has ballooned by $42 million since November, after federal transit officials told the state its previous projections were unrealistic.

Project officials now think building the Northstar rail line from downtown Minneapolis north to Big Lake will cost $307 million, 15 percent more than they projected in November.

In the past four months, the cost estimate was revised upward twice -- most recently on April 6. State transportation officials, however, didn't alert legislators about the latest cost increase -- $18 million -- before the state House voted Wednesday to put $50 million into the project.

"Absolutely it's something we should have known," said Rep. Dan Dorman, R-Albert Lea, who voted for the Northstar funding. "But I don't support it blindly." He is concerned that the project doesn't yet have a green light from the freight railroad whose tracks Northstar's trains will use.

Scheduled to start service in 2009, Northstar would carry commuters from Sherburne, Anoka and northern Hennepin counties into downtown Minneapolis. The construction cost would be paid for by the federal and state governments, along with the three counties.

What's increasing

Until November, that cost was estimated at $265 million. But project officials added $24 million to the budget to remedy skimpy planning for inflation and construction surprises.

Mark Fuhrmann, Northstar project director, said project officials planned for inflation cost increases of 2.7 percent, but the Federal Transit Administration thought it should be 4 percent. Correcting that added $14 million to the budget.

In similar fashion, project officials planned $8.5 million to cover unexpected costs, which was 3 percent of the budget -- and the federal officials thought it should be 8 percent. This added $10 million to the budget.

In April, the federal officials found too little budgeted for hiring a firm to keep the project on schedule and within budget. An extra $13 million was added. And another $5 million was added for contingency costs.

Fuhrmann said he does not expect the budget to be adjusted again.

Bob McFarlin, assistant to the state's transportation commissioner and Gov. Tim Pawlenty's representative in the negotiations with the railroad, said he did not convey the price change to legislators primarily because the state's share of the cost hasn't changed, despite the higher overall budget. The number isn't final, he added, because the negotiations with Burlington Northern Santa Fe aren't complete.

The $18 million added to the project this month will be divided this way: $9 million from the federal government, $4.5 million from Anoka and Sherburne counties, and $4.5 million from the $60 million requested from the state, said Mike Schadauer, deputy project director for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Anoka County has already approved its share and Sherburne is scheduled to vote on it today.

State Capitol reaction

"No surprise," said Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville, an opponent of Northstar, said of the increased estimate. "It's very typical. It's typical of these transit projects. ... Costs continue to rise."

Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, a supporter of the project, said rising costs on a transit project should be expected just as they are on such road projects as the Crosstown Hwy. 62.

"Only opponents will think it's significant," Hausman said. "Once you accept the fact that you are going to have a public mass transit system as an alternative to roads, you view that as you do every other building project."

To finalize $60 million in state funding for the project, which is pending at the Capitol, Dorman advised project officials to "go into super speed on these negotiations with Burlington Northern and button that rascal up. It's time to get this thing moving forward. I don't know how long we are going to drag it out."
 
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Tough As Nails

Glave Master
The Light Rail in the Minneapolis area absolutely RULES for sporting events. I don't care how much it costs....it's worth every penny for that convenience.

 

bialczabub

Lord of the Flies
Andy, you only view it as expensive because so much of private transportation is subsidized by the government.

Trains are paid for by people that ride them. Roads are paid for by everyone.

Public transportation is good for reasons of pollution (air and noise), traffic, and safety.

Here's a list of some indirect costs I found:

Accidents (minus net insurance disbursements and direct costs as cited) 3.5¢ per mile

State and Local Construction, Improvements and Repair (2000) 0.8¢ per mile

State and Local Highway Maintenance and Operations (2000) 0.4¢ per mile

Parking (commercial and employer-paid, including goverment tax) 4.8¢ per mile

Waste Disposal 0.2¢ per mile

Air Pollution Damage (health costs, crops, trees, materials, etc.) 4.0¢ per mile

External Resource Consumption Costs 2.4¢ per mile

Road Noise (property value decrease and abatement) 0.8¢ per mile

CO2 Reduction (motor vehicles only) 1.1¢ per mile

Water Pollution and Hydrologic Impacts 1.3¢ per mile

Transportation Diversity and Equity 0.5¢ per mile

Barrier Effects on Pedestrians and Bicycles 0.9¢ per mile

Land Use Impact Costs 5.6¢ per mile

Roadway Land Value 2.4¢ per mile

Congestion Cost 4.2¢ per mile
link
 
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Andy Dufresne

Footballguy
Andy, you only view it as expensive because so much of private transportation is subsidized by the government.
How so?
Trains are paid for by people that ride them.
Public trains aren't.
Roads are paid for by everyone.
As they should be since everyone benefits.
Public transportation is good for reasons of pollution (air and noise), traffic, and safety.
If you can get people to ride it, sure.
 

DCThunder

Footballguy
The Metro in DC gets a subsidy from DC, Maryland and Virginia for annual operating costs. There is no way it collects enough money in fares to pay for it's operations. Hence, the public at large pays for it, whether they ride it or not.

I don't know if the New York subway is the same way, but I'd bet it is.

Mass transit does make sense in certain cities where it's already built, but building it from scratch, now, doesn't from a purely economic point of view. There may be other public policy reasons to build/support mass transit however.

 

shining path

:prettyplease:
Andy, you only view it as expensive because so much of private transportation is subsidized by the government.
How so?
Trains are paid for by people that ride them. 
Public trains aren't.
Roads are paid for by everyone.
As they should be since everyone benefits.
Public transportation is good for reasons of pollution (air and noise), traffic, and safety.
If you can get people to ride it, sure.
In cities where there's a comprehensive public transportation system, people ride it all the time. bialczabub left off the social benefit of allowing poor people to get where they want to go without having to spend a large portion of their income on keeping a car on the road and insured. You could probably tack on the benefit of reducing the number of uninsured drivers on the road.Maybe public transportation doesn't provide reasonable cost-benefit in sparsely populated areas of the country, but in and around big cities, I don't see how a competently-run system is anything but a massive benefit.

 

Andy Dufresne

Footballguy
In cities where there's a comprehensive public transportation system, people ride it all the time. bialczabub left off the social benefit of allowing poor people to get where they want to go without having to spend a large portion of their income on keeping a car on the road and insured. You could probably tack on the benefit of reducing the number of uninsured drivers on the road.
All right. Fair point. And I'm just repeating what I've read/heard here, so don't label me...What about, for example, the increase in crime brought on by the mobility of the poor? The "best" example of this that I know of is Atlanta where the MARTA system brought much more crime to the north side of town (Buckhead) from travelers in the poorer southern part of the city.

Maybe public transportation doesn't provide reasonable cost-benefit in sparsely populated areas of the country, but in and around big cities, I don't see how a competently-run system is anything but a massive benefit.
Competently run? Any examples of those?
 

Smoo

Fear the Beaver
Regardless, public transportation is a bad idea because it ends up costing way too much for the benefit it brings and people around here just do not adopt it very well.
Public transportation wasn't made to be a profitable enterprise, dingleberry. If it is, great, if it's not, whatever. It was designed for other reasons.
 

Andy Dufresne

Footballguy
Regardless, public transportation is a bad idea because it ends up costing way too much for the benefit it brings and people around here just do not adopt it very well.
Public transportation wasn't made to be a profitable enterprise, dingleberry. If it is, great, if it's not, whatever. It was designed for other reasons.
I'm not concerned about it being profitable, if it's a public system. I'd settle for break-even in that case. But if it costs you money, what's the point?BTW - What other reasons are you referring to?

 

Sammy3469

Footballguy
Trains are paid for by people that ride them. 
Public trains aren't.
Free public trains? Where?
The Operating of the Trains maybe partialy funded by the fares. But the intial cost of building the lines to run these trains are footed by the City/County and State Tax payers.
yeah, but aren't 99% of the costs of all roads footed by the City/State/or Federal government. The only one I'm familar with is NYC and it's finances are less than opaque since it mixes up capital and operating costs.
 

Dolph

Footballguy
The Metro in DC gets a subsidy from DC, Maryland and Virginia for annual operating costs. There is no way it collects enough money in fares to pay for it's operations. Hence, the public at large pays for it, whether they ride it or not.

I don't know if the New York subway is the same way, but I'd bet it is.

Mass transit does make sense in certain cities where it's already built, but building it from scratch, now, doesn't from a purely economic point of view. There may be other public policy reasons to build/support mass transit however.
Actually the Subsidy that is paid by Maryland, Virginia & Washington D.C is done to help keep Metro running & have the ability to offer transit at a very low cost. You don't find many Metro Subway & Bus transit systems that can offer the value that WMATA Offers. A round trip from Springfield to the Stadium Armory costs about 5 bucks or so.
 

Dolph

Footballguy
Regardless, public transportation is a bad idea because it ends up costing way too much for the benefit it brings and people around here just do not adopt it very well.
Public transportation wasn't made to be a profitable enterprise, dingleberry. If it is, great, if it's not, whatever. It was designed for other reasons.
:rolleyes: Remember this is Smoo talking here lol. Quick & to the point without a lot of BS.

:nerd:

 

Andy Dufresne

Footballguy
Regardless, public transportation is a bad idea because it ends up costing way too much for the benefit it brings and people around here just do not adopt it very well.
Public transportation wasn't made to be a profitable enterprise, dingleberry. If it is, great, if it's not, whatever. It was designed for other reasons.
:rolleyes: Remember this is Smoo talking here lol. Quick & to the point without a lot of BS.

:nerd:
But always spiced up with a personal shot vis a vis the uber-eloquent "dingleberry".
 

John Maddens Lunchbox

Socialism for Dummies
If Public transportation has strong funding that isn't pissed against a wall, then it can work very well.

Australia's 3 major cities illustrate this perfectly.

Melbourne has invested heavily in Public Transport. I lived there for 5 years and didn't have a car. Trams, Trains & buses. All run efficiently and are profitable.

If it's very late at night you get a taxi, of which there are many. 9/10 for Public Transport

Sydney apparently spent a lot of money on this for the Olympics in 2000, but before that it was average. Train network was underfunded and after about 4 derailments in a year, they improved it. Buses are good. Ferries also were useful if you had to cross the harbour. Had a monorail, but that was pretty useless. I found the public transport to be inefficient overall, but is a lot better now apparently. 6/10

Brisbane was severely mismanaged and inefficient. If you wanted to get somewhere on time you got a taxi or owned a car. A 2 mile journey took me 2 hours and I only went there on holiday. 1/10. Only buses and trains from what I could see.

In conclusion if proper planning and sufficient resources are ploughed in, public transport will work well and people will use it. If not, people won't.

 

dgreen

Footballguy
The Metro in DC gets a subsidy from DC, Maryland and Virginia for annual operating costs. There is no way it collects enough money in fares to pay for it's operations. Hence, the public at large pays for it, whether they ride it or not.

I don't know if the New York subway is the same way, but I'd bet it is.

Mass transit does make sense in certain cities where it's already built, but building it from scratch, now, doesn't from a purely economic point of view. There may be other public policy reasons to build/support mass transit however.
Actually the Subsidy that is paid by Maryland, Virginia & Washington D.C is done to help keep Metro running & have the ability to offer transit at a very low cost. You don't find many Metro Subway & Bus transit systems that can offer the value that WMATA Offers. A round trip from Springfield to the Stadium Armory costs about 5 bucks or so.
Isn't Metro one of the most expensive subway systems in the US?
 

Smoo

Fear the Beaver
Regardless, public transportation is a bad idea because it ends up costing way too much for the benefit it brings and people around here just do not adopt it very well.
Public transportation wasn't made to be a profitable enterprise, dingleberry. If it is, great, if it's not, whatever. It was designed for other reasons.
I'm not concerned about it being profitable, if it's a public system. I'd settle for break-even in that case. But if it costs you money, what's the point?BTW - What other reasons are you referring to?
Low-cost alternative for the public, less pollution, less traffic. I'm sure there are more.
 

DCThunder

Footballguy
The Metro in DC gets a subsidy from DC, Maryland and Virginia for annual operating costs.  There is no way it collects enough money in fares to pay for it's operations.  Hence, the public at large pays for it, whether they ride it or not.

I don't know if the New York subway is the same way, but I'd bet it is.

Mass transit does make sense in certain cities where it's already built, but building it from scratch, now, doesn't from a purely economic point of view.  There may be other public policy reasons to build/support mass transit however.
Actually the Subsidy that is paid by Maryland, Virginia & Washington D.C is done to help keep Metro running & have the ability to offer transit at a very low cost. You don't find many Metro Subway & Bus transit systems that can offer the value that WMATA Offers. A round trip from Springfield to the Stadium Armory costs about 5 bucks or so.
Isn't this what I said? Fares don't pay the annual operating costs, let alone any capital improvements.I live in Rockville and work in the Connecticut and K area. I could take the Red Line. The cost of parking at the Rockville station and the daily round trip fare, exactly equal what it costs me for monthly parking downtown in my building. Yes, I have to pay for gas and upkeep on the car. But since the cost is essentially the same, I'd rather drive and deal with the traffic on 270 than take Metro.

 

Smoo

Fear the Beaver
Regardless, public transportation is a bad idea because it ends up costing way too much for the benefit it brings and people around here just do not adopt it very well.
Public transportation wasn't made to be a profitable enterprise, dingleberry. If it is, great, if it's not, whatever. It was designed for other reasons.
:rolleyes: Remember this is Smoo talking here lol. Quick & to the point without a lot of BS.

:nerd:
But always spiced up with a personal shot vis a vis the uber-eloquent "dingleberry".
Dingleberry is a term of endearment. If I didn't like you, I'd have used something nastier.
 

Dolph

Footballguy
The Metro in DC gets a subsidy from DC, Maryland and Virginia for annual operating costs.  There is no way it collects enough money in fares to pay for it's operations.  Hence, the public at large pays for it, whether they ride it or not.

I don't know if the New York subway is the same way, but I'd bet it is.

Mass transit does make sense in certain cities where it's already built, but building it from scratch, now, doesn't from a purely economic point of view.  There may be other public policy reasons to build/support mass transit however.
Actually the Subsidy that is paid by Maryland, Virginia & Washington D.C is done to help keep Metro running & have the ability to offer transit at a very low cost. You don't find many Metro Subway & Bus transit systems that can offer the value that WMATA Offers. A round trip from Springfield to the Stadium Armory costs about 5 bucks or so.
Isn't Metro one of the most expensive subway systems in the US?
Not to my knowledge it is not. If your talking in conjuction say with Virginia Railway Express, MARC Rail or one of the dozens of commuter bus companies perhaps it may cost you quite a bit, but I have found Metro to be quite reasonable compared to some other systems I have seen.
 

dgreen

Footballguy
The Metro in DC gets a subsidy from DC, Maryland and Virginia for annual operating costs. There is no way it collects enough money in fares to pay for it's operations. Hence, the public at large pays for it, whether they ride it or not.

I don't know if the New York subway is the same way, but I'd bet it is.

Mass transit does make sense in certain cities where it's already built, but building it from scratch, now, doesn't from a purely economic point of view. There may be other public policy reasons to build/support mass transit however.
Actually the Subsidy that is paid by Maryland, Virginia & Washington D.C is done to help keep Metro running & have the ability to offer transit at a very low cost. You don't find many Metro Subway & Bus transit systems that can offer the value that WMATA Offers. A round trip from Springfield to the Stadium Armory costs about 5 bucks or so.
Isn't Metro one of the most expensive subway systems in the US?
Not to my knowledge it is not. If your talking in conjuction say with Virginia Railway Express, MARC Rail or one of the dozens of commuter bus companies perhaps it may cost you quite a bit, but I have found Metro to be quite reasonable compared to some other systems I have seen.
I've only been on NYC, Boston, and Chicago subways and I'm pretty sure they were cheaper.
 

Michael Fox Fan

Footballguy
Roads are paid for by everyone.
As they should be since everyone benefits.
Everyone does NOT benefit proportionately. I rarely used the roads in NYC, and I don't drive much in Chicago now that I live here. So how do I benefit? Because goods can be trucked into my neighborhood?Drivers directly pay only about 30% of the cost of roads. The majority of spending is funded through general revenue. Once drivers start paying the full cost of driving, then we can get rid of subsidies for mass transit.

 

Dolph

Footballguy
The Metro in DC gets a subsidy from DC, Maryland and Virginia for annual operating costs.  There is no way it collects enough money in fares to pay for it's operations.  Hence, the public at large pays for it, whether they ride it or not.

I don't know if the New York subway is the same way, but I'd bet it is.

Mass transit does make sense in certain cities where it's already built, but building it from scratch, now, doesn't from a purely economic point of view.  There may be other public policy reasons to build/support mass transit however.
Actually the Subsidy that is paid by Maryland, Virginia & Washington D.C is done to help keep Metro running & have the ability to offer transit at a very low cost. You don't find many Metro Subway & Bus transit systems that can offer the value that WMATA Offers. A round trip from Springfield to the Stadium Armory costs about 5 bucks or so.
Isn't this what I said? Fares don't pay the annual operating costs, let alone any capital improvements.I live in Rockville and work in the Connecticut and K area. I could take the Red Line. The cost of parking at the Rockville station and the daily round trip fare, exactly equal what it costs me for monthly parking downtown in my building. Yes, I have to pay for gas and upkeep on the car. But since the cost is essentially the same, I'd rather drive and deal with the traffic on 270 than take Metro.
I was only offering a little more insight to your point, not arguing against it. I live in Fredericksburg, Va & Commute daily to Bethesda, MD. I also drive although my company pays for my parking pass in this building so I save money by driving like you do. If I took Transit it would cost me about $20 a day compared to $70 a week by driving.

BTW Thunder good to see another native metro area person around here. :thumbup:

 
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Andy Dufresne

Footballguy
Everyone does NOT benefit proportionately. I rarely used the roads in NYC, and I don't drive much in Chicago now that I live here. So how do I benefit? Because goods can be trucked into my neighborhood?
You don't think that's a benefit? The transportation system is a fundamental component of a city's infrastructure. I don't think the same can be said of public transportation. Not built from scratch anyhow.But you're right, not everyone benefits proprtionately.

 
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phrozen

Footballguy
I live in Fredericksburg, Va & Commute daily to Bethesda, MD.
Ouch.Whats that take, like 90 minutes in rush hour?
My thoughts exactly. American Legion Bridge and Mixing Bowl twice a day. That's a scary thought. :eek:
:goodposting: that is about as bad as one of my co-workers lives in columbia and commutes to our Rockville office each day.

His commute sucks now but just wait until the summertime he is going to be :own3d: by the beltway.

 

(HULK)

(Smash)
I live in Fredericksburg, Va & Commute daily to Bethesda, MD.
Ouch.Whats that take, like 90 minutes in rush hour?
My thoughts exactly. American Legion Bridge and Mixing Bowl twice a day. That's a scary thought. :eek:
:goodposting: that is about as bad as one of my co-workers lives in columbia and commutes to our Rockville office each day.

His commute sucks now but just wait until the summertime he is going to be :own3d: by the beltway.
I bet he's hoping for the inter-county-connector.
 

phrozen

Footballguy
I live in Fredericksburg, Va & Commute daily to Bethesda, MD.
Ouch.Whats that take, like 90 minutes in rush hour?
My thoughts exactly. American Legion Bridge and Mixing Bowl twice a day. That's a scary thought. :eek:
:goodposting: that is about as bad as one of my co-workers lives in columbia and commutes to our Rockville office each day.

His commute sucks now but just wait until the summertime he is going to be :own3d: by the beltway.
I bet he's hoping for the inter-county-connector.
he is really hoping for it. He would move closer but he and his family love Columbia to much to move.
 

Quez

Footballguy
The trolley in Tampa is a money pit, but it costed millions. Hopefully, with the all the new high rise condos people will use them more.

Florida also had an amendment that the voters approved to start work on a high speed rail by 2012, but after they realized the cost another amendment was passed voiding the previous. That same year an amendment was also voted on that said any new amendment must have a detailed cost estimate.

I think they should make high speed rails that can hold cargo containers. Then when people are not traveling they could ship a few containers across the stae. But, I doubt the truck drivers would let that fly.

 
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Thorpe

Footballguy
Not everyone can afford a car, so if there was no public transportation they'd have to bike or jog to work, right?

 

Andy Dufresne

Footballguy
Not everyone can afford a car, so if there was no public transportation they'd have to bike or jog to work, right?
Um. Yeah.Should I pay for someone to get to work because he/she can't afford to?

 
M

MelvinTScupper

Guest
Not one Simpson's "Monorail" reference yet? Very disappointing.
I was more disappointed that Andy botched Carl Spackler's line so badly.
 

blend

Footballguy
Public Transportation in PHX is brutal. We do have a light rail system in the works though, but I can't imagine with the sprawl here that it will be used as much as it could. Why would I want to drive 2 miles, get on a light rail and the nearest stop to my office is 3-4 miles away??? that'd be a fun walk in the middle of 115 degree days in the summer.

 

reg

Mod in training
I love riding the bus to work. $5.50 round trip stress free ride vs. $9.00 parking + whatever gas I would use + having to deal with idiot drivers.

 

shining path

:prettyplease:
Not everyone can afford a car, so if there was no public transportation they'd have to bike or jog to work, right?
Um. Yeah.Should I pay for someone to get to work because he/she can't afford to?
When combined with all the other benefits a robust public transportation system brings, then I'd say yes.
 

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