Nashville to Lebanon Rail Line Fails. Lebanon War to Blame?

Mass transit continues to prove itself to be expensive, unpopular, and unprofitable--even when it "debuted as the least expensive commuter rail to be built in the United States" and when high gas prices are in the headlines every day.

Tenessee's Music City Star line is completely dysfunctional. Transiteers were shocked to discover that insurance, station security, and marketing cost money (who could have known!?). The inevitable $1.7 million shortfall resulted.

The Feds, who contributed some big bucks to the project, aren't pleased. When even the federal government wants its money back, you know things are bad:

The Federal Transit Administration, which invested more than $30 million in the 2006 start-up of the Lebanon-to-Nashville commuter line, would demand its money back from the Regional Transportation Authority and the return of all assets if the Music City Star were to stop running, it wrote in a letter to local authorities this week.

Note: That's Lebanon, Tennessee. Sadly, there is still no Orient Express originating in Nashville. The line was launched in 2006, however, about the same time as the Israel-Lebanon War. Coincidence?

How spectacular is the failure?:

In the first year, ridership fell considerably short of consultant projections of 1,479 daily trips. It's now averaging about half that number and recorded 938 trips on its best single day.

Via alert reader Jason Bates

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  • Kolohe||

    Mass transit continues to prove itself to be expensive, unpopular, and unprofitable--

    No arguegment on the first and last characterizations.

    But as far as 'unpopular,' it is undeniable that mass transit ridership is significantly up this year, and in some places so much as to strain the system.

  • ||

    In the first year, ridership fell considerably short of consultant projections of 1,479 daily trips. It's now averaging about half that number and recorded 938 trips on its best single day.

    Use that as a rule of thumb when reading proposals for mass transit. Ridership will be ~50% of projections. Costs will be ~200% of projections. The transit proponents can research the projects of the past and find projections are consistently off approx. that much and adjust algorithms accordingly.* Since they don't, I am forced to conclude that transit designers/proponents are either stupid or liars.

    Tell the truth and try to sell it. I despise liars.

    * I haven't been to college so I'm probably talking out my ass. :-)

  • Jason||

    Mass transit continues to prove itself to be expensive, unpopular, and unprofitable

    Unlike our inexpensive and profitable Interstate Highway system.

    A time of $4/gallon gas surely isn't one to invest in alternatives. No sir! Especially not when mass transit systems are hitting record ridership levels left and right!

    http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&safe=off&resnum=0&q=record+ridership&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=ln

  • ||

    "unpopular" with Reason writers because it doesn't fit their preconceived notions maybe. But mass transit in most major cities isn't wanting for passengers; DC just set ridership records again this month and NYC's subway has always been popular (and that's just the US; have you ever seen a city bus in Mexico City?)

    And it's comparatively expensive compared with driving because the cost of roads and all associated stuff like traffic signals is paid for by the government, and said roads are typically expensive and unprofitable. But that's assuming that "profit" was the goal of building roads or mass transit in the first place. This also assumes that all "mass transit" projects are equal and can be lumped together. Just because this Music City Star line was poorly thought out/a bust doesn't mean that public transportation projects elsewhere will be "failures" as well.

  • Mark A Tarnowski||

    "Use that as a rule of thumb when reading proposals for mass transit. Ridership will be ~50% of projections. "

    We have light rail here in Minneapolis. It works great! Millionaire business people use it to go from the airport to downtown (it's so much faster and only costs $2.00 as opposed to a cab ride at $35 or a limo @ $85) and actual ridership has exceeded the projected ridership by 64%. Smart planning was paramount.

    "Projected ridership doubled in the first two months after opening and now has settled in at about 19,300 passengers daily, climbing to an estimated 24,600 by 2020. Trains run every 7 to 10 minutes and riders can transfer free onto 46 Metro bus routes. "The Hiawatha Line has been in operation 14 months and we are experiencing 64% more riders than expected," says Gibbons. "We've already ordered three new rail cars." "

    Source:

    http://designbuild.construction.com/features/archive/2005/0511_cover.asp

  • ||

    Google "transit increase," and ponder the fact that this story is the post is the only transit-related story to be covered by Reason in the months.

    They're not all hacks who twist the facts based on ideoloty here. Just some of them.

  • Guy Montag||

    I knew those flatlanders in Nashville were going down hill when I saw HOV lanes on the interstate highways through there back about 10 years ago or so.

    I had no idea to what depths they could sink. No idea.

  • Ben W.||

    I don't really understand the hostility toward mass transit. There's no free market in transportation: airports & their security is entirely governmental, roads and highways are subsidized. I'd like to see a comparative analysis accounting for the various levels of subsidies and such, before I pass judgment on transit.

    Also, it's ridiculous to take a single line and use it to condemn transit in general. Nashville is ~500,000 folks, but Lebanon is tiny, only 20,000. We have a much more sensible line over here, linking Tacoma WA and Seattle, WA, which is a much more balanced route: ~600,000 to 200,000. It fields some 9000 daily riders (with 30% year over year growth).

  • ||

    In the three cities I have lived in the last decade or so (Denver, Los Angeles and St Louis), bus transit continues to be the mass transit of choice for people of lean means and middle class types who are being frugal or pious or just enjoy not having to be anywhere in any particular hurry, while rail-based transit continues to be like a turd that won't flush.

    I don't have the hard numbers to prove anything, but in many cities rail systems are just not effective solutions.

  • Guy Montag||

    Ben W.,

    All you did was flesh out more of the list that many of us complain about. You just happened to land on one of them.

  • Baritone Voiceover||

    They're not all hacks who twist the facts based on ideoloty here. Just some of them.

    Playing the part of 'Lonewacko' in this afternoon's mantinee will be Mr Joe Boyle.

  • ||

    "But mass transit in most major cities isn't wanting for passengers; DC just set ridership records again this month and NYC's subway has always been popular (and that's just the US; have you ever seen a city bus in Mexico City?)"

    There's no comparison between major cities like NYC (21 million+), Washington DC (7.6 million) and smaller areas like Nashville (1.2 million).

  • Rhywun||

    Cute picture of an empty NYC subway car - as if such a thing exists outside the railyard. I guess it fits in with the overall spin that libertarians bring to this issue.

  • ||

    "They're not all hacks who twist the facts based on ideology here."

    True hacks believe only in taxi service.

  • Bryan||

    "Mass transit continues to prove itself to be expensive, unpopular, and unprofitable"

    Setting aside the incorrectness of this claim -- who cares? The older I get, the more I believe the mass transit are one of the few things that government should do. The reason so many mass transit programs appear to fail initially is that they have to lead development. Most people don't want a train running through the backyard of the house that they already bought, but once the train is up, there are a lot of people that want to live in close proximity. The movement of people that will use the train to locations that make it possible takes time.

    Moreover, even if there are long periods where ridership is down (maybe because gas is cheap), I think is worth it as a contingency plan when crisis do arise. Think of it as a transportation safety net. If cities waited until gas spiked up to build the train systems, there is no way they would be done in time to make a difference. The systems need to be in place to capture rider ship when emergencies happen. If anything, a lot of cities should have built more mass transit, because I imagine there are a ton of people that wish they could take it right now but that can't.

  • Guy Montag||

    True hacks believe only in taxi service.

    Winner!

  • ||

    I don't have the hard numbers to prove anything, but in many cities rail systems are just not effective solutions.

    FTFY!

  • ||

    Oh look, hard numbers:

    The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced today that Americans took 2.6 billion trips on public transportation in the first three months of 2008. This is almost 85 million more trips than last year for the same time period.

    "There's no doubt that the high gas prices are motivating people to change their travel behavior," said APTA president William W. Millar. "More and more people have decided that taking public transportation is the quickest way to beat the high gas prices."

    Last year 10.3 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation - the highest number of trips taken in fifty years. In the first quarter of 2008, public transportation continued to climb and rose by 3.3 percent. In contrast, the Federal Highway Administration has reported that the vehicle miles traveled on our nation's roads declined by 2.3 percent in the first quarter.


    It's interesting that this record-setting year represents a significant increase over last year, which was also a record-setting year.

    As automobile travel continues to prove itself expensive, unpopular, and unprofitable...

  • Neu Mejican||

    Cherry picking season I see.

  • ||

    Cute picture of an empty NYC subway car - as if such a thing exists outside the railyard. I guess it fits in with the overall spin that libertarians Katherine Mangu-Ward bring[s] to this issue.

    FTFY, too!

  • ||

    There's no comparison between major cities like NYC (21 million+), Washington DC (7.6 million) and smaller areas like Nashville (1.2 million).

    Hey, I wasn't the one who originally lumped everything together as "mass transit", I just ran with it. If the author wants to amend her statement so that it applies just to this project then we're probably on the same page.

  • robc||

    When a train exists to get me from the bar district to home at 4 AM ....

    This was always my biggest problem with mass transit. It didnt seem to exist at the times and between the places that I was interested in using it.

    Note: its been a good 10 years since I was young enough to regularly close a bar down. And even though Im not young enough anymore, any city that has a last call time before 2 AM is a city full of wusses.

  • ||

    I don't really understand the hostility toward mass transit.

    It probably has something to do with Wendell Cox, Reason's anti-rail guy, having a lucrative side gig lobbying for public spending on buses.

    Reason isn't "anti-transit." They're anti-rail.

  • ||

    Look at it this way. I live very close, in local / relative terms, to where I work. I often wall to work on nice days, but in bad weather I always drive. People envy how close I live to work. But in NYC terms, I live 50 short blocks away from work. How many NYers would consider 50 blocks "living close to work"? How many NYers would routinely walk 50 blocks to work? Wouldn't they just get on a train? I don't have a train, I have a car.

    People in high-density areas can't imagine going without mass transit and people in low-density areas can't imagine have to ride a train or bus everywhere. But what works in one place will not, cannot work in the other. Once people realize this, maybe the compulsory mass transit schemes for low-density areas will end and people who drive will realize that their roads are funded out of the same pool of money as light rail.

  • ||

    airports & their security is entirely governmental,

    But generally self-supporting through fees as far as I know.

    roads and highways are subsidized

    Not sure what "subsidized" means, here. If you mean, paid for by taxes, sure. Most of those taxes are "user fees" in the form of fuel taxes, though.

    I'd like to see a comparative analysis accounting for the various levels of subsidies and such, before I pass judgment on transit.

    Me, too. I would like to see it account for passenger miles/pound miles, and to account for costs that are borne by the users of the transport infrastructure. My sense is that mass transit riders bear a lower percentage of their costs than others, but data is always welcome.

  • ||

    last call time before 2 AM is a city full of wusses

    The Wife just got back from Seattle. Apparently last call is 1am. Is the city full of old ladies?

  • ||

    I like Beef Wellington; therefor, I shall proceed on the assumption everybody else likes Beef Wellington (or they would, if only they'd stop eating those icky lobsters and try it). The government should provide subsidized Beef Wellington to all Americans. They probably should just take their lobsters away from them, and force them to eat Beef Wellington. Every ultra-yummy bite.

    Anybody who thinks Beef Wellington is bad for them, or is too expensive compared to lobster, or just doesn't want to eat it, is a dumbass.

  • Neu Mejican||

    If the author wants to amend her statement so that it applies just to this project then we're probably on the same page.

    Another-isolated-incident thinking (popular with Balko as well), however, is so compelling that it can be used to generalize your preconceived position on any issue...so I am not gonna hold my breath.

  • Bryan||

    robc,

    Agreed 100%. Unfortunately the young, drunk lobby doesn't carry as much weight as it should.

    You would think MADD might pick up on this solution but they would rather the youth total-tea.

  • Bryan||

    SugarFree,

    A lot of people would argue that the reason some places become "high density" is because they had active mass transit systems that allowed people to get places easily without driving. New York/Chicago vs. LA. Its not the number of people, but the ease of public transportation. Low density cities should build rail systems now, so that the future generations can make use of them as the city evolves.

  • ||

    Mississippi still gave us one of the greatest bands of the 80s:
    http://www.myspace.com/menwithnoiqs

  • ||

    robc,

    Lexington has the whole perverse incentive shit down pat. They swarm the downtown bars for drunk drivers, but also ticket the shit out of people for "public intoxication" for the crime of walking home when too drunk to drive. The buses won't let on anyone "visibly drunk" and the cab company charges upwards of $15 for a 5 minute fare. So, do you drive 5 minutes or walk for 30?

    Lexington likes to think it would exist without UK. They are wrong.

  • robc||

    SugarFree,

    BTW, I was including Lexington in my "city of wusses". With a closing of 2 AM, Lexington last call is "before 2 AM".

  • ||

    I googled "Mass Transit ridership" and from the preponderance of stories available, ridership is indeed up. Then I googled "Mass Transit Deficit", and guess what? Mass transit systems are hemorrhaging money like never before; mostly due to increased ridership that pays fares far below a break even rate. So, yes, mass transit works at moving people around, but only if we accept that we are going to pay for it whether or not we actually ride it.


    Here's some quotes/figures: "Bay Area transit operators, facing what they say is a combined loss of up to $273 million, have yet to determine what the potential effects would be on service." They've raised fares 26 percent in the last five years, and are not anywhere near closing the gap - they are begging the state for the money to make it up, before they start cutting service.


    Boston's Public Transportation system is running a $5 billion deficit, New York will have a $2.07 billion deficit by 2011, Chicago just implemented a 40% tax increase on property owners, just to pay for public transportation. Most of these systems look to balance their budgets by getting a greater share of the city, state, or even federal transportation fund. That's right - if you live in Albany, you get to pay a tax increase to allow some jackass to ride the subway in Manhattan for $2, when he should be paying $20. Sounds super!

  • robc||

    SugarFree,

    Lexington would exist without UK. It would be a land of pretty horse farms just like Woodford County.

  • ||

    Excellent comment, P Brooks.

    I heartily endorse your pro-transit message.

    Which is the only way one can read it, since "They probably should just take their lobsters away from them, and force them to eat Beef Wellington," can only possibly apply to the constant calls for defunding and eliminating transit services, given the complete absence of similar calls for defunding and eliminating roadways and highways.

  • Nigel Watt||

    Lexington also has Fark, though, right?

  • ||

    Mass transit continues to prove itself to be expensive, unpopular, and unprofitable

    I really dislike it when hackery like this runs in a blog I generally respect. One anecdote does not justify the above statement. If you have numbers to prove your claim, please do so.

  • ||

    Don Mynach,

    Notice anything about the traffic during your commute lately?

    Transportation systems works as systems. Providing alternatives so that traffic volumes stay down benefits everyone - including those breathers who don't even use the transportation system.

  • robc||

    Nigel,

    Drew lives in Lexington but I think the servers are in Frankfort.

  • ||

    Bryan,

    A lot of people would argue that the reason some places become "high density" is because they had active mass transit systems that allowed people to get places easily without driving.

    Those people are wrong. All of the major cities have mass transit because they are dense, they didn't become dense because they had mass transit. Mass transit is a response to the rising impracticality of private transport. Name one place that had a fully functional, ubiquitous mass transit system before city level densities were archived.

    Designing new developments or city growth patterns in a way that would allow for mass transit to be built when it becomes necessary is not a terrible idea. The "build it and they will ride" mentality is exactly what the Nashville-Lebanon boondoggle is all about.

  • robc||

    R. Totale,

    As Don just posted, the 1st and 3rd seem to be true, while the 2nd not so much.

  • ||

    robc,

    Lexington would be a bit bigger than that. We were a dry good and textile center long before the college.

    On the subject of Frankfort, is everybody else's state capitols that are not in a major city also utter shitholes?

  • ||

    Cities/regions in Europe have successful transit systems at much lower total populations than here in the US.

    The key factor isn't overall regional population or even density, but the existence of walkable places that make sense to link together with transit.

    You can have a successful, economically viable transit system that consists of linking 30,000-resident suburbs to a 100,000-resident core city, if the city and towns are laid out properly.

    You can also have a mulit-million resident region with a relatively high overall density, and have a failed transit system, if you can't walk anywhere useful from the train station.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Don Mynack,

    I wonder if you have done the number crunching on how profitable highway systems are?

  • robc||

    A question for those who know:

    Are there any privately owned mass transit systems in the US? If they were such a good idea, I would expect someone would try to "lease" it from a city authority and run it as a for profit venture, like some of the toll roads are now. Is any of that happening?

  • e||

    Wanted to provide a link to Jason's URL:

    http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&safe=off&resnum=0&q=record+ridership&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=ln

    Yes, mass transit ridership is at record highs. KMW wasn't talking out her ass; she simply meant that mass transit is unpopular among the most important and influential commuters: Reason columnists.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "I knew those flatlanders in Nashville were going down hill when I saw HOV lanes on the interstate highways through there back about 10 years ago or so."

    The HOV lanes there are only part-time HOV. Between 7-9 AM for inbound and 4-6 PM outbound.

    And quite few people ignore that status even then. There are no entry barriers on those lanes.

  • Richard Upton Pickman||

    For a non-ideological perspective, I grew up right between Nashville and Lebanon (and worked in both cities during college). I can't imagine why anyone would go to Lebanon or, really, much of the space in-between.

    This isn't an insult, it just seems as though a rail system in that area is pretty impractical. I would say that 900 riders per day is pretty much maxing out what they shoul expect.

  • robc||

    NM,

    I wonder if you have done the number crunching on how profitable highway systems are?

    See my simulpost. Some companies have found (or at least think it will be) highway systems profitable.

  • Russ 2000||

    The older I get, the more I believe the mass transit are one of the few things that government should do.

    That's funny. The older I get the more history I'm able to learn and I discover that mass tranist was much more efficient and served a greater percentage of people when it was all privately owned.

    There isn't a libertarian alive that has a problem with the concept of mass transit. The basic problem with government-run mass transit is the non-market prices being charged.

  • ||

    SugarFree, the two happen in parallel.

    Manahattan Island was able to support 3-6 story wall-to wall development because of the early railroads. That worked so well that the area covered by such buildings began to increase. In response, the buildings began to go higher, creating a demand for better transit services. The subway then made it feasible to build the Empire State/Chrysler Buildings, which drew even more activity, requiring additional investment in transit, ad infinitum.

    A bunch of rail stations linked together on the Great Plains probably wouldn't cause a bunch of big cities to sprout up, but providing transit in a place that is already drawing growth can, like providing public sewerage instead of making everyone rely on septic systems, remove a cap that would otherwise have limited the growth that would otherwise occur.

  • ||

    In Indianapolis, taxes make up 82% of the operating budget in an average year for IndyGo, the gummint bus (for now) company. Fares make up around 16%, with the rest coming in by way of ads or special services.

    http://kolehardfacts.blogspot.com/search?q=indygo+balance+sheet

    Ok, so highways are subsidized. Great. Maybe the way to level that playing field is to eliminate the subsidies. Why must leveling the playing field always come down to increasing subsidies?

  • ||

    Cities/regions in Europe have successful transit systems at much lower total populations than here in the US.

    But do they throw out a train from point A to nowheresville, and nowheresville suddenly springs forth as a city? Because that's what Bryan is talking about.

    Lexington is 300,000 people or so. If we spent billions to honeycomb the city with subways, will be become Manhattan?

    I'm not against mass transit, but I think (most) people only ride it when they have too, not by choice. Supply doesn't drive demand.

  • Neu Mejican||

    robc,

    We are talking about the general case, not anecdote, so I didn't bring up the private rail lines that people are hoping will be profitable either.

    I imagine that the difference between leasing and maintaining an existing highway and building one is a pretty important factor in whether it is profitable or not, and it will have to link up to publicly funded roads, which provide a substantial cost savings, etc...

    joe already mentioned the systemic nature of these questions.

  • ||

    There's no comparison between major cities like NYC (21 million+), Washington DC (7.6 million) and smaller areas like Nashville (1.2 million).

    Whoa. DC is not a city of 7.6 million people. It has a population of roughly 600,000, and that number has been trending downward for a loooong time.

    If you count the MD and VA 'burbs and Baltimore as well, which they do on a regular basis, then you might get that number. Maybe.

    But to claim that DC is a city of "millions" is a larf. It's a punk of a city at best, one that would probably still be swampland otherwise.

  • ||

    That's right - if you live in Albany, you get to pay a tax increase to allow some jackass to ride the subway in Manhattan for $2, when he should be paying $20. Sounds super!

    Considering the amount of subsidizing that NYC does for the rest of New York state this is an extremely poor example to use; your average upstate New York lifestyle is only sustainable since NYC taxes pay for it.

  • ||

    "Reason is..anti-rail." Interesting, considering that a Reason's founder, Bob Poole, is a big-time railroad fan. Maybe he is just against taxpayers subsidizing his hobby?

  • ||

    the two happen in parallel.

    Agreed, but still not what a lot of mass transit folks are suggesting. They are putting the cart before the horse, is all I'm getting at.

  • ||

    We have light rail here in Minneapolis. It works great! Millionaire business people use it to go from the airport to downtown (it's so much faster and only costs $2.00 as opposed to a cab ride at $35 or a limo @ $85)

    We're subsidizing millionaires' transportation choices. Ain't it just grand?

  • ||

    Honestly, mass transit will continue to be a heavily subsidized unsuccess story until the Libertate Plan is adopted--pneumatic tubes connecting all buildings.

  • Rationalitate||

    Mass transit continues to prove itself to be expensive, unpopular, and unprofitable

    Entirely unsurprising, considering that transportation and land use are intricately linked, and the US government has been manipulating the private land use decisions of individuals to favor auto-based transit for almost a century now. Mass transit (public or private - let's not forget that what are now public mass transit systems were originally built by profit-seeking entrepreneurs) depends heavily on density to work, but through maximum density zoning laws and minimum parking requirements, governments have been hampering private individuals' ability to achieve that density. It's severely disappointing to see Reason contributers bashing mass transit without recognizing this essential fact.

  • Russ 2000||

    But in NYC terms, I live 50 short blocks away from work.

    Does that compute to 25 long blocks?

    Not sure if NYC "blocks" are one furlong like they are in Chicago, but a 50-block walk in Chicago is over six miles. That's a 2-hour commute.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    This particular system in Nashville was partnered with a small private freight carrier. In exchange for letting passenger trains run on their lines they got an upgraded infrastructure and an extra revenue source.

    On the other hand, it sounds like this system is being affected by certain federal regulations such as the insurance. There were a number of regulations that in part caused privately run systems becoming unprofitable in the first place leading to government subsidies and control of them.

  • Cheri||

    "Cherry picking season I see."

    Would someone please explain the origins of this phrase? I have several cherry trees in my yard and frankly, just don't see the connection between picking cherries (they seem to ripen all at once) and the concept of picking only the data that supports one's position. I am truly baffled!

  • ||

    Liberatarian issues with government ownership of anything nonwistanding, I always understood that Reason aversion to light-rail mass-transit systems was that it was by far not as cost effective as highway systems. They figure if the Feds or whoever was gonna jack 30% of people's earnings, they better be using it on
    projects that would benefit the most people.

    For example a highway system can service driving customers, as well as for relatively small additional investment mass transit customers through a good bus network.

    I never thought it was a total aversion to mass transit, just where the planners try to put the product before demand. What do they think they are Nintendo or something?

  • ||

    Mass transit systems were publically owned, back before the government used regulation and road-building subsidies to make them uncompetetive. In the three decades prior to the Interstate Highway Bill and widespread sprawl zoning, transit remained economically strong, even as mass ownership of automobiles spread throughout society.

    But once these policies were adopted, it caused the build-out of cities and regions in a pattern that depended on roads, since it became illegal to build the sort of places that lend themselves to transit service. This served to lock in the competetive advantage enjoyed by the auto/roadway industry.

    People choose driving over transit when the physical form of the places they live and work makes it a better choice. When transit is a better choice, people choose that.

  • Neu Mejican||

    NYC blocks are 1/8 mile iirc.

  • ||

    Reason isn't "anti-transit." They're anti-rail.

    Which is an entirely defensible position to take, given the number of light rail proposals/installations in this country that fail the is-it-better-than-a-bus test spectacularly.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Would someone please explain the origins of this phrase?

    You pick the cherry out, and leave the non-cherry stuff behind...

    I can imagine it comes from how you would eat some nasty English dessert with cherries and unsweetened lard or something.

  • robc||

    NM,

    I didn't bring up the private rail lines that people are hoping will be profitable either.


    Since I specifically asked about it earlier, it would have been nice if you had.

    Im all in favor of private rail. I would use it if it existed and was convenient. Alas, it isnt. The bus line in Louisville would be super convenient if I ever wanted to go downtown. Going anywhere else is pretty much a non-starter. However, as I try to avoid downtown as much as possible (including refusing to work there), it isnt.

  • ||

    Russ 2000,

    A short block in most of Manhattan is .0525 of a mile. (A long block is .20 of a mile.)

    10th street to 60th street is 2.3 miles according to Google Maps Pedometer. (Also, a fantastic site to bookmark.)

  • Neu Mejican||

    Seattle has a private street-car thingee that has started to run recently. It is, of course, a private/public partnership thing, but the initiative came from the business community.

  • Russ 2000||

    A lot of people would argue that the reason some places become "high density" is because they had active mass transit systems that allowed people to get places easily without driving. New York/Chicago vs. LA.

    Then a lot of people argue wrongly.

    NYC and Chicago (and SF) were established before the automobile was invented. LA was established after the automobile was invented. That has more to do with it than city planning. (Not a knock on joe, I'm a big Burnham fan)

  • Neu Mejican||

    sugarfree,

    I used to live on 10th...between 5th and 6th.

    Nice location.

  • Rationalitate||

    Which is an entirely defensible position to take, given the number of light rail proposals/installations in this country that fail the is-it-better-than-a-bus test spectacularly.

    If you view the transportation system in isolation and don't consider what factors influence transportation, it's reasonable to arrive at this conclusion. However, viewing transportation in isolation from other land use issues is maniacal. See my above comment on the intersection between land use (zoning and parking requirements, mainly) and transportation to see why simply comparing subsidies is an irrational way to decide which system would survive best in a free market.

  • Guy Montag||


    roads and highways are subsidized



    Not sure what "subsidized" means, here. If you mean, paid for by taxes, sure. Most of those taxes are "user fees" in the form of fuel taxes, though.

    Of which no small portion goes to these socialized monstrosities called "mass transit", be it rail or busses or whatever.

    robc,

    There used to be plenty of privately owned mass transit systems, before they were hijacked by governments. The "Loop" in Chicago, much of the NYC subway system, many of the NYC buses, etc.

    Too bad government roadblocks and regulation are keeping private transportation at an artificially high cost right now. Well, not too bad for those mass transportation system ridership numbers.

    Now that the government has unseated so many people from their cars, who do they think will pay the fuel taxes that they rob for their cutsie little trains?

    BTW, the VA House just voted to jack up fuel taxes, but it will be quashed in the Senate.

    [crazed Leftist nutcase voice]
    Now, if only the folks in TN could have had the vision to zone the Lebanon to Nashville corridore as a car free zone, this project would have been a success. We should get all of our transportation from the government because it is the only fair way to do it.

  • Mark A Tarnowski||

    "I'm not against mass transit, but I think (most) people only ride it when they have too, not by choice. Supply doesn't drive demand."

    To reiterate:

    We have light rail here in Minneapolis. It works great! Millionaire business people use it to go from the airport to downtown (it's so much faster and only costs $2.00 as opposed to a cab ride at $35 or a limo @ $85) and actual ridership has exceeded the projected ridership by 64%. Smart planning was paramount.

    If millionaire business people are chosing light rail over limos, that means that supply drove demand. The train is faster and cheaper.

  • No Name Guy||

    When will the Police and Fire Departments turn a profit? They have huge deficits.

  • ||

    Neu Mejican,

    Ooh-la-la. What were you doing for a living? (Or was it before reclamation...)

    Whenever we vacation in NYC, the wife and I always stay at the Washington Square Hotel, so I know that area well.

  • ||

    If millionaire business people are chosing light rail over limos, that means that supply drove demand.

    They already wanted to go downtown, a "cheaper" alternative was presented and they took it. It means a demand was met, not that the mere existence of the train suddenly created a demand for people to go downtown.

  • ||

    . . .Granted, my proposed Intertubial Network would require a massive investment in infrastructure, but, once completed, people and cargoes could be zipped around pneumatically. And the best part is that pneumatic travel will be fun!

  • Guy Montag||

    They already wanted to go downtown, a "cheaper" alternative was presented and they took it. It means a demand was met, not that the mere existence of the train suddenly created a demand for people to go downtown.

    I wonder what this level of socialization did to the limo transportation segment in that area?

  • Casey||

    "We're subsidizing millionaires' transportation choices. Ain't it just grand?"

    Are you saying the rich should be banned from using the system? How will you implement the requisite means-testing?

  • ||

    And the best part is that pneumatic travel will be fun!

    Except when the people ahead of you vomit.

  • ||

    Are you saying the rich should be banned from using the system? How will you implement the requisite means-testing?

    They are easy to spot. Just look for top hat, monocles and a bag with a big "$" drawn on it.

  • ||

    Not at all. Each traveler will have his own sealed, Plexiglas travel car. You know, like those thingees you put your money in at the bank. Zip!

    The Intertubial also has the advantage that the vacuum can be maintained electrically, so many alternative power sources can be used.

  • ||

    "I wonder if you have done the number crunching on how profitable highway systems are?"

    Since the federal money that subsidizes both highway building and public transportation for cities comes from gas taxes, and is currently running at a surplus, I would say it's more than breaking even.

    Since all the public transportation fans think this system is great, let's turn it on it's head. How would you feel if we increased fares to a level where they not only paid for the train you are riding, but also covered a percentage of the road maintenance costs that drivers are currently covering, while lowering gas taxes. After all, if more and more people choose public trans over driving, this is the inevitable result, yes?

  • cheri||

    "You pick the cherry out, and leave the non-cherry stuff behind..."

    Wouldn't the same hold true for all stone fruits? Or apples? Or mellons?

    So why cherries?

  • ||

    Pro Libertate,

    What a relief. I thought you were just weaving some crazy scheme.

  • Guy Montag||

    The Intertubial also has the advantage that the vacuum can be maintained electrically, so many alternative power sources can be used.

    Well, yours is emmissions free, since everybody knows that electricity does not pollute. But mine is too, however I proposed steam power. I think my idea is hotter.

  • ||

    Cheri,

    Here's what the OED says:

    1. The action or practice of harvesting cherries; an instance of this.
    1849 Godey's Lady's Bk. Nov. 320 (heading) Recollections of a grown-up schoolboy... Cherry-pickings, robbing orchards and love-making. 1868 All Year Round 6 June 614/2 Cherry picking was another delight, increased by the danger of falling from steps and ladders. 1899 Atlantic Monthly May 665/2 When the young people refuse to buy, he tells William and Rose, his children, to invite them to a picnic and cherry-picking. 1920 Jrnl. Polit. Econ. 28 196 Whereas cherry picking, which used to command a piece rate of 1 cent per pound, rose to 3 and 4 cents in 1919. 1963 G. D. SPINDLER Educ. & Culture III. xviii. 369 The typical pattern is to work hard at cherry-picking or greens-gathering for a few weeks. When that is finished there is money for food and a few bottles of beer for awhile. 1999 S. STEWART Sharking ii. 41 I've decided to go and do cherry-picking on a kibbutz in Israel.

    2. colloq. The action or process of selecting only the best or the most profitable items, opportunities, etc. Cf. CHERRY-PICK v.
    1965 N.Y. Times Bk. Rev. 11 July 13 (advt.) The Great Discount Delusion..reveals the gimmicks some discounters use{em}among them: phony price tickets, short weight,..'creaming and cherry-picking', 'baiting-and-switching'. 1979 Business Week 12 Mar. 125/1 Guardian's cherry-picking of high-volume business can only carry you so far. 1988 Austral. Financial Rev. 9 Mar. 12/4 The drive has included..measures to stop former abuses such as cherry picking (looting superannuation lump sums for the benefit of few people). 1994 Denver Post 6 Feb. E2/2 This provision would prevent the so-called 'cherry-picking' that..high-paid lobbyists..use to scare lawmakers. 2000 Pensions Managem. Apr. 8/1 To prevent cherry-picking, stakeholder schemes cannot insist that contributions are paid in a certain way.



    Apprently, stealing cherries was very easy, as opposed to other orchard items, possibly because of low hanging fruit. (The two terms might be related, actually)

  • Mark A Tarnowski||

    "They already wanted to go downtown, a "cheaper" alternative was presented and they took it. It means a demand was met, not that the mere existence of the train suddenly created a demand for people to go downtown."

    No, the demand was for faster, more reliable transportation from the airport to downtown. Taxis and limos and rental cars get stuck in traffic and snow. The rail line does not.

    It's faster...

  • Mark A Tarnowski||

    "It's faster..."

    And time is money.

  • ||

    Mark,

    Once again, the demand was there before the train. The train did not create the demand to go downtown.

  • DannyK||

    I always see people talking about "mandated mass transit", and it never makes sense. In Seattle, we're having a big discussion about what to do with our failing transportation system -- tax money is going to be spent either way, on highways or buses or light rail or whatever.

    Spending some of it on mass transit enables people to have more transportation options, and frees up existing highway space for those who still want to drive themselves.

    How any of this constitutes a Hayekian HOV-lane-to-serfdom is beyond me.

  • Mark A Tarnowski||

    "Once again, the demand was there before the train. The train did not create the demand to go downtown."

    Why do business people fly from San Franscisco to New York when after all, when they can just drive there?

    It's faster. Speed is a premium.

  • Rhywun||

    In Indianapolis, taxes make up 82% of the operating budget in an average year for IndyGo



    That's absurdly low. In New York the riders pay 55%.

    http://www.observer.com/2008/mta-march-and-today

  • robc||

    Mark,

    In both cases, the DEMAND for faster travel existed, even before the mechanism to deliver it existed. Sometimes, centuries before the mechanism existed.

  • Rhywun||

    The train did not create the demand



    In NYC, the original, private operators of subway lines routinely extended their trains to nearly empty land, and the demand soon followed. This is how Coney Island got popular. In Hoboken, there is a new rail line and big clumps of new condos are going up around every new station, on abandoned industrial land.

    a 50-block walk in Chicago is over six miles



    50 blocks in Manhattan is 2.5 miles.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "I always see people talking about "mandated mass transit", and it never makes sense. In Seattle, we're having a big discussion about what to do with our failing transportation system -- tax money is going to be spent either way, on highways or buses or light rail or whatever.

    Spending some of it on mass transit enables people to have more transportation options, and frees up existing highway space for those who still want to drive themselves."


    For highways, the gas tax is supposed to be the user fee. For mass transit, the fare charged to riders is supposed to be the user fee.

    The one should not be subsidizing the other. Referring to it all as "tax money" blurs the distinction.

  • dpsc||

    NYC's subway has always been popular

  • dpsc||

    NYC's subway has always been popular

  • dpsc||

    Meh- the commenting fix you just added did not work.

  • dpsc||

    NYC's subway has always been popular

    Of course it has. Some cities are well suited to mass transit. I had a boss who made fun of me all the time because I didn't have a car. I used to eat dinner at his house a lot, so one night I bet him $1000.00 CDN that I could get to his house by metro faster than he could get there by car.

    I think he knew he would lose- it was rush hour and our office was only a block or so away from the Namur station. Harry was a rich Jew (come to think of it I spent my entire working life working for rich Jews- maybe there is something to all the conspiracy theories) so he lived in Cote St Luc.

    Harry was psyched because we spent the money together on hookers and drugs. His wife was willing to let him pay a gambling debt, but she would never have let him blow a grand on women and chemicals.

    So yeah, public transport is a great thing in some cases, particularly if you are the beneficiary of that largesse (hint: everyone in Quebec pays a lot for Montreal's Metro system.)

    But I've also lived in a lot of places where public transport makes no sense. The easiest way to find out if public transport makes sense in a given place is to charge people to ride, and expect the system to at least break even.

    I know that the idea of lettinog the market figure it out is foreign to most Reason commenters, but perhaps some of you might consider the proposition.

  • Nashville Driver||

    Lemmie 'splain this one to you. Lebanon (Tennessee) is a very blue collar area way the hell out east of Nashville. So are most of the neighborhoods the train passes through on its way downtown. Though there are people who live in Lebanon and work in downtown Nashville, the potential number of riders was far lower than they would have had with a terminus in any of several other suburban locations. As the Tennessean article hints, the only reason the Music City Star serves Lebanon is that there were available existing rails.

    Second, once you get downtown, if your final destination isn't within walking distance of the train's last stop, you're out of luck because the idea of "mass transit" is a joke here. The bus system is a nightmare largely because the main roads are laid out not like a grid, but like the spokes of a wheel. So if you're in the NE corner of Nashville and your destination is in the northern central part of town, you may have to take a bus 15 miles to downtown only to board another bus to take you 15 miles back out another spoke to a location that was 5 miles from where you were to begin with.

    Then there's the matter of frequency. If you miss a train or subway in New York or San Francisco or DC, even in non-peak hours, there'll be another one in a few minutes. You miss the Music City Star by a minute and you better have a book with you 'cause you've got some major time to kill.

    Those are just the top items on the list of reasons the Music City Star failed.

  • Reilly||

    I'll fully admit that funding for public transportation dwarfs funding for highways and the like (once you consider the money raised by the gas tax).

    That said, wouldn't it be nice if people from Reason would do the proper libertarian thing and consider how insane municipal zoning and building codes (maximum building height and densities, minimum lot sizes, mandatory parking requirements, below-market-cost municipally provided parking) tend to stack the deck against any North American urban environment where profitable (private, even) transit could be viable?

    I suppose I shouldn't expect better from a publication associated with Cox and O'Toole, pseudo-libertarians who only care about property rights in the suburbs.

  • Franklin Harris||

    The only rail system that could make money in Tennessee would be one that went to Memphis and then continued south to the casinos in Mississippi.

  • Rhywun||

    The one should not be subsidizing the other.



    Urban areas subsidize the suburbs and beyond in many ways that aren't listed here. End all subsidies, everywhere, and then we can begin to talk.

  • Seitz||

    Mass transit systems are hemorrhaging money like never before; mostly due to increased ridership that pays fares far below a break even rate.

    Two words here. Bull and Shit.

    First, I will not argue that public transportation is a) losing money, or b) charging fares below a break even rate. I don't care to research it.

    But it simply doesn't follow it that increased ridership is causing these losses to go up. A train costs pretty much the same to run at 60% capacity as it does at 80% capacity. The costs are fixed. The marginal cost of an additional rider is essentially zero. A train ride does not "cost" the city X amount per rider such that the cost increases with the number of riders. This would only be true to the extent that the transit authority is adding additional services based on the increased ridership, and in the short time that ridership has spiked, this simply isn't the case.

    Think of a baseball team that routinely draws 20,000 people and loses money. There is no additional "cost" associated with drawing 5,000 more people other than the nominal cost of printing one more ticket. Those extra 5,000 fans are purely additional revenue (this is why owners are lying when they say they need to raise ticket prices because they signed a big free agent).

    So no, increased ridership, especially over the last few months, is not leading to increased losses. Do you really think transit authorities are sitting around and saying "boy, I sure hope nobody rides our trains today, which are already running regardless of the number of people who ride"?

  • dpsc||

    That said, wouldn't it be nice if people from Reason would do the proper libertarian thing and consider how insane municipal zoning and building codes (maximum building height and densities, minimum lot sizes, mandatory parking requirements, below-market-cost municipally provided parking) tend to stack the deck against any North American urban environment where profitable (private, even) transit could be viable?

    First, that's certainly an excuse to drink (like I needed one). Second, I don't want to defend Reason's writers (they seem, to me, to be equal parts still up the ass of Anuff/Steadman, young partisans, and moldy figs). But you are not making much of an argument here.

  • Rhywun||

    I'll fully admit that funding for public transportation dwarfs funding for highways and the like (once you consider the money raised by the gas tax).



    I won't. What about local streets, many parking structures, the DMV, and all the other apparatus I don't use but have to pay out of my taxes?

  • Russ 2000||

    A train costs pretty much the same to run at 60% capacity as it does at 80% capacity.

    Yes, but few trains run at 60% capacity unless they're the new over-estimated projects. Otherwise any system operating at 60% usually sees service cuts so that they're running at a more reasonable 80% capacity.

  • No Name Guy||

    You would think all these car drivers would welcome more mass transit, since it means less people on the road and thus less of their time stuck in traffic. I guess they really like traffic jams and gridlock. Think of the money you pay to mass transit as an anti-gridlock subsidy. How much is your time stuck in traffic worth to you?

  • ||

    Russ2000,

    Actually, LA grew into a city during the streetcar era, and had one of the best public transportation systems in the world. This system and the pattern of streets and buildings that supported it were deliberately dismantled by people pursuing a purposeful program of redesigning the city around the automobile.

    Thank you to Guy Montag for clarifying the ideological fanaticism that most anti-rail types prefer to hide under a veil of pseudo-science. Mass transit, like mulitfamily housing, must be destroyed, because it has something to do with teh socialists.

    Gil and RC Dean make the same point: gas tax money subsidizes rail. I've already pointed how how little sense it makes to look at one mode of a transportation system in isolation - the transit riders translating to extra capacity for the drivers and more parking for them at their destination. Let's look at it another way: people in NYC who drive maybe 3000 miles/year, but get 5 mpg because they're stuck in traffic and driving in they city, vastly overpay their gas taxes, compared to the costs they impose by way of road construction and repair. Their gas tax money subsidizes roads they never drive on, and more importantly, they are putting in far more than they take out. But because the people with an ideological hostility to rail have an ideological affinity for roads, it's never described that way.

    Transportation is a system, and we pay for that system.

  • Neu Mejican||

    joe,

    What?

    Next you are going to be claiming that there is a connection between property values in urban areas and a more desirable quality of life (which may include public transportation).

    Everyone knows you have to force people to pay extra to live in a big city and ride the train. They would never choose to do so if all options were on equal footing.

    ;^)

  • No Name Guy||

    Its a silly and useless game to try to figure out who "subsidizes" who. Levithan has grown so large we ALL end up on the government tit whether we know it or not.

    Its not a moral failing, its a fact of life in the modern big-government state.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Now that the government has unseated so many people from their cars...

    How'd the government pull this one off?

    Ooh-la-la. What were you doing for a living?

    Speech-language therapy with kids with disabilities in a couple of Harlem schools, and working with preschoolers with speech disorders in mid-town penthouses. My wife worked at the Natural History Museum.

    We were the poorest folks on the block I am sure.

  • Seitz||

    Yes, but few trains run at 60% capacity unless they're the new over-estimated projects. Otherwise any system operating at 60% usually sees service cuts so that they're running at a more reasonable 80% capacity.

    This is true, but not on a day to day, or even week to week basis. Pretty much all the articles I've seen lately talk about increased ridership over the past month or two. I seriously doubt there have been any service increases in that time. There certainly haven't been in Chicago. So the idea that transit authorities lose more money when ridership increases abruptly simply isn't supported by facts.

    Presumably, those increases are over ridership totals that had more or less reached an equilibrium with service. An abrupt increase in ridership, without the added expense of increased services in the short term is simply not costing TAs more to operate.

  • Seitz||

    To add, I didn't really address your point very well, which I read to be somewhat in support of mine. So say trains were running at 80% capacity and now they're running at 95%. Same analysis as in my initial post.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Since the federal money that subsidizes both highway building and public transportation for cities comes from gas taxes, and is currently running at a surplus, I would say it's more than breaking even.

    Huh? Where'd you get the idea that the gas tax covers all the infrastructure costs?

    Here's the quickest numbers I could find:

    ...in 2002, $27.9 billion were spent on U.S. local roads, of which only $3.1 billion was from user fees. General tax funding averaged about 5.6¢ per motor vehicle mile of travel on local roads. Roadway user charges fund only about 70% of roadway expenditures (only 60% excluding bond revenues), indicating that fuel taxes would need to increase more than 45% to fully cover these costs....On average, local and regional governments spend $300-500 annually per automobile in general taxes on local roads and traffic services, averaging more than 6¢ per mile driven on local roads. Only 0.7¢ of this is paid through vehicle user charges, meaning that driving is subsidized through general taxes by about 5.6¢ per mile on local roads.


    To be fair, I said "highway" but without local roads to drive on, highways would face the already discussed problem of getting around once you reach your destination that hampers success for rail when the destination is not pedestrian friendly.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Urban areas subsidize the suburbs and beyond in many ways that aren't listed here."

    Says you.

  • zoltan||

    It's true. More married people and people with kids live in the suburbs, who get tax breaks subsidized by the single and rich.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Gil and RC Dean make the same point: gas tax money subsidizes rail. I've already pointed how how little sense it makes to look at one mode of a transportation system in isolation - the transit riders translating to extra capacity for the drivers and more parking for them at their destination. Let's look at it another way: people in NYC who drive maybe 3000 miles/year, but get 5 mpg because they're stuck in traffic and driving in they city, vastly overpay their gas taxes, compared to the costs they impose by way of road construction and repair. Their gas tax money subsidizes roads they never drive on, and more importantly, they are putting in far more than they take out."

    The highway gas tax as a user fee isn't perfect and some drivers do wind up subsidizing other drivers. Putting transponders in everyone's car and charging them by miles driven instead of by gallons of gas used would improve that but even then it still wouldn't be perfect. The actual costs of constructing and maintaining the specific roads some people drive on cost more than others due to terrain, weather, etc.

    However, the fact that some drivers wind up subidizing other ones is no rationale for making ALL drivers subidize mass transit users.

    While some drivers pay for more roads than they use, there aren't any mass transit riders who are paying the full cost or more of their mode of transport.

    It is a one way subsidy. There aren't any mass transit riders subsidizing drivers.





    "But because the people with an ideological hostility to rail have an ideological affinity for roads, it's never described that way."

    What I have an ideological hostility to is people claiming that government mandated subsides between categories of people is justified for some alleged "common good" - a common good they aren't the least bit capable of proving exits.

  • lower case j||

    Russ2000:
    Yes, but few trains run at 60% capacity unless they're the new over-estimated projects. Otherwise any system operating at 60% usually sees service cuts so that they're running at a more reasonable 80% capacity.

    I doubt there is any rail service that even runs at even 50% capacity. Even a train that runs at 80% capacity during a workday morning commute period is probably going to have to run the other way, nearly empty, to pick up more passengers.

  • Mike Laursen||

    joe, what role do you think central planning and long-term subsidization play in creating successful mass transit? Do you think private entrepreneurship, competition, creative destruction, and non-centrally planned evolution can be of value in creating successful mass transit systems -- or complex systems in general?

  • ||

    "As automobile travel continues to prove itself expensive, unpopular, and unprofitable..."

    ...because of liberal assholes like you who vote in other liberal assholes who vote against oil exploration and nuclear power for 20+ year straight. Thanks, dude, and move over, you're in my seat.

  • Guy Montag||

    Gilbert Martin,

    "I knew those flatlanders in Nashville were going down hill when I saw HOV lanes on the interstate highways through there back about 10 years ago or so."

    The HOV lanes there are only part-time HOV. Between 7-9 AM for inbound and 4-6 PM outbound.

    Yep, just like here in the DC beltway area. Isn't that the standard? HOV during peak hours?

  • Guy Montag||

    No Name Guy,

    You would think all these car drivers would welcome more mass transit, since it means less people on the road and thus less of their time stuck in traffic. I guess they really like traffic jams and gridlock. Think of the money you pay to mass transit as an anti-gridlock subsidy. How much is your time stuck in traffic worth to you?

    Think of all the extra lanes we would have if we were not wasting tha money on public trains and public busses.

  • robc||

    Isn't that the standard? HOV during peak hours?

    Atlanta HOV is 24/7. Nashville on my way to Atlanta is the only other HOV city I regularly drive in. So, in my experience, its a 50/50 split. :)

  • Guy Montag||

    robc,

    Also note, even here in the DC beltway, there are ZADS of non-public busses filling in where the socialists don't feel like covering.

    Private commuter busses from the suburbs, that parallel mass transit train lines. Hotel, apartment and mall busses that run similar routs to public busses. Federal agency busses that run almost identical routs to public busses (heavily restricted ridership), some include commuting use, some do not. On that last one, a DoD bus stops right in front of my residence and goes straight to my office building, but I am prohibited from using it in my commute*, i.e., must have an office stop at each end. When I was supporting another agency, they had a bus that part of the appropriaion that allowed commuters to use it, which is a pretty rare situation. I usually drove anyway. Much quicker and nicer 3 mile trip that way.

    *I never use that bus for commuting and never will, since it is prohibited. The notion that I would be the first person busted using it for commuting has crossed my mind too.

  • ||

    Seitz | June 26, 2008, 6:10pm | #
    Mass transit systems are hemorrhaging money like never before; mostly due to increased ridership that pays fares far below a break even rate.

    Two words here. Bull and Shit.



    Good call.

  • ||

    Mike Laursen,

    I think transportation infrastructure in inherently tied to central planning. Even in the age of "private" mass transit, the companies were laying down tracks on city streets, to service places laid out by planners. Greyhound is private-sector mass transit, and couldn't exist without the highway system.

    There are many, many aspects of life where complex systems arise from and are optimized by entrepreneurship and privite enterprise, and there is room for private-sector involvement in transportation, but it's always going to be based on a public system.

  • ||

    ...because of liberal assholes like..

    Zzzz....

    Everythings GO TEAM RED to some people. Even getting from here to there is an excuse to partisan warfare. Every government function needs to advance The Movement, and punish the infidels.

    This mentality is how the Justice Department got screwed up.

  • ||

    Lemme guess: "Strawman strawman strawman strawman strawman."

    Gee, it sure is nice to have Doug Fletcher back.

  • ||

    Shouldn't we include the price of meddling in the Middle East as part of the subsidy on gasoline and automobiles ?

  • Guy Montag||

    Shouldn't we include the price of meddling in the Middle East as part of the subsidy on gasoline and automobiles ?

    We didn't have automobiles when President Jefferson sent the Navy over there.

  • ||

    Transportation is a system, and we pay for that system.

    Sure, but that doesn't even begin to address the questions of (a) how we pay for it and (b) what the best use of our tax dollars is.

    Some kind of mixed system works best, I have no doubt, in high-density areas.

    Roads are multi-use infrastructure - people (including cars and busses), freight, emergency services, etc. Light rail is a single-use infrastructure - people only. It would only be appropriate in very high-density areas. But that's not where many light-rail systems are being put in, which strikes me as a poor allocation of scarce (tax)resources.

    The objection comes most easily to vanity light rail systems proposed by politicians as "legacy" projects where they can only function if heavily subsidized.

  • ||

    RC,

    You're right, it doesn't answer those questions. It answers a prior question.

    It's important, when looking at transportation projects, to think about the future. That region is going to grow, and what you build will not just meet existing demand, but shape future growth.

    Also, while light-rail is more expensive per mile to build, initially, it is much cheaper to expand. When the highway reaches capacity, you have to build a project just as expensive as the first one, maybe moreso. When your rail system reaches capacity, you put a couple more cars on each train, and change your schedule a bit.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Shouldn't we include the price of meddling in the Middle East as part of the subsidy on gasoline and automobiles ?"

    Well that would be fine with me.

    The military is funded by the highly "progressive" income tax, so take that funding out of the income tax and add it to the gas tax and then reduce the federal income tax rates accordingly.

    The top 50% of income earners pay 97% of the federal income taxes and those deadbeat bottom 50% pay virtually nothing.

    Let those bottom 50% deadbeats start paying for the military protection they are using through the gas tax.

  • ||

    I live in Lebanon and would like to commute to work every day on the rail, but it only goes to downtown Nashville (riverfront). For daily ridership to increase, it has to go where the jobs are like West End, Brentwood and Cool Springs. It's great for a football or hockey game but not for work.

  • wizard of oz books||

    With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

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