Government Spending

"By wasting only $20 million today, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) saved taxpayers $80 million."


The Desire Named Streetcar is alive and kicking taxpayers in the pants.

The AP reports on a press release from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) that touts her role in shoveling millions of dollars on an antiquated and dysfunctional form of transportation (try driving or walking in cities lousy with streetcars).

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded Kansas City a $20 million grant to help build its streetcar route through about two miles of downtown.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said in a news release Friday announcing the grant that the streetcar project will "encourage housing, construction, and business development in the city." And she said that will mean for jobs for the region.

The project has an estimated cost of about $100 million. And voters previously approved a 1-cent sales tax increase and property tax increases to help pay for the streetcars, which will run from the River Market area to Union Station. Supporters hope it will be the first leg of a more extensive public rail system.

Plans call for streetcars to start running in 2015.

Wow, just $50 million per mile. That's a real bargain—and one that will inevitably cost way, way more if and when the streetcars ever get a-rollin'. 

Hat tip to occasional Reason contributor Philippe Lacoude, who has a pretty interesting back-of-the-envelope calculation that should have been included in McCaskill's press release:

The Congress…spends $3,650 billion dollars or so (rounded up a bit) per year. That's $100 million per day per senator. So I guess you could spin the story in the following way: "By wasting only $20 million today, Sen. Claire McCaskill saved taxpayers $80 million."

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  1. It’s okay, reason, just point on this doll where rail travel hurt you.

    The wallet!

  2. Let me guess, Claire’s husband is going to make money on the deal. God she is an awful crook. Fuck you Akin, you fucking moron. And screw you Missouri voters for voting in a crook in the name of protecting the womenz from a fucking junior Senator.

  3. Wait. I know that KC like LA and other places had a street car system that went out of use about 50 years ago. Now they are building a new one from scratch? And I’m paying for it?

    What the Fuck?

    1. KC is a big spread out western city. There is tons of land out on the prairie. And they have lots of roads to get you where you need to go. They need a street car system about as much as Phoenix needs snow removal equipment.

      1. I spend a couple of weeks in KC every summer. I am always amazed at how little traffic there is downtown for a big city. Any KCers who complain about the traffic should try Atlanta or Miami sometime.

  4. Better alt-text:


  5. I can’t understand the obsession with streetcars and light rail (and other forms of obsolete transit). Sure, intercity rail has romance, (so much romance that even Amtrak can’t kill all of it.) but other than a major city (and relatively compact city) like Chicago or New York, I just don’t get it.

    1. Liberals hate freedom and sprawl. Thus they hate cars more than anything. Thanks to cars we can all live pretty much where we want to. We can have things like yards and land and things liberals hate. With cars, we have all this unplanned and uncontrolled growth going on. Liberals can’t stand that. They want everyone into uniform, government provided high density apartments, where top men can monitor them and make sure they are living sustainable lives in the right manner. Being in love with light rail is just a part of all that.

      1. The funny thing is streetcars and interurbans played that role before cars. They were enablers of “sprawl” by allowing people to live beyond walking distance from their workplace in whatever neighborhood they desired. Often lines were opened by developers to get people to buy in their suburban/rural developments.

        In another hundred years, will autonomous cars be touted as more green and efficient than mass transit?

        1. Once liberals figure out that autonomous cars will enable the government to monitor your every move and keep you from doing unapproved things like speeding, liberals will fall in love with them.

          And yeah, street cars enabled the first real expansion of cities. And high density living sucks. People hated it. One of the biggest lies liberals tell themselves is the lie that people only moved out of the cities because of some evil plot by GM and the government. No amount of government subsidizing could have built the post war suburbs had people not been so intent on getting the hell out of the city. Life before World War II was very often like the Honeymooners. Life in a small apartment stuffed a building like fucking animals. People wanted to live Dick Van Dyck out in the burbs with a house and some privacy. Liberals have never forgiven America for that desire and have spent 60 years trying to punish them for it.


            If you’re a driver in France, or Germany, soon you may not have to worry about getting a speeding ticket ever again. On the other hand, you also may never be on time again. That’s because the European Union is looking to introduce a new law requiring cars to come fitted with technology that would keep drivers from going over the speed limit.

            1. They want to do that. But I can’t see it happening. I think that is one case where the EU finally gets told no.

              But remember, the people at the EU who want that shit, are no different than our Democratic Party.

            2. And oh the comments

              I’ve been saying this for years. How can you advocate for gun control while ignoring an industry that stays in business by marketing dangerous activity. How many cars are sold with V6, V8, V10 engines, that have 300, 400, 500 HP and are marketed based on how fast they can go from 0 to 60 mph? More people die on America’s highways than are shot to death with firearms. Why does a soccer mom need a V6 honda accord with 280 HP? Why does a 19 year old need a 400 HP Mustang?

              It is always about making their preferences mandatory with liberals. Why do you need that? I don’t need it or like it so neither should you.

              1. We need to start confiscating the Macbook Air of each of these hipster dumbfucks and give them a bargin Acer from Walmart.

                No one “needs” an Macbook Air.

              2. It is always about making their preferences mandatory with liberals.

                I’ve noticed from speaking to them that they haven’t even considered the possibility that their own preferences are not an objective and universal moral code.

              3. Slight correction: it’s their preference for others, not for themselves. The elites pushing mass transit don’t envision themselves on those trains.

        2. It’s funny how many things that exacerbate sprawl are sold as anti-sprawl. Greenbelts and caps on development density also come to mind. It’s almost as though there were such things as unanticipated consequences.

    2. It’s all about intentions. The intent is to get people out of their cars. That will not be the result, but it is the intent. When projects don’t achieve their intended results, it’s not because there was something wrong with the project. Nope. That was because of the evil corporations or something. Because if an idea has good intentions, then it is a good idea. Regardless of if it has any realistic chance of achieving the intended goal.

    3. But … but … progress! Progress evidently chases its own tail.

  6. that touts her role in shoveling millions of dollars on an antiquated and dysfunctional form of transportation (try driving or walking in cities lousy with streetcars).

    Yeah, I do it every day. They make a lot of sense in dense cities like Prague.

    1. Urban mass transit depends on dense urban populations. It works (with massive subsidies) in Europe and the East Coast. It fails miserably in the urban sprawl of the Midwest and West.

      1. Well, Dopravni Podnik is a private joint stock company, but yes, I wouldn’t be surprised if they get subsidies, indirectly in the case of maintenance by the city if nothing else. But the point is that the trams work well as a supplement to the metro (subway), not dysfunctional nor ‘antiquated’.

        1. The trolleys and subway in Moscow made getting around pretty easy. And the London Underground is pretty good for getting around inner London. But most Americans would freak-out in the population density of European cities.

          1. But most Americans would freak-out in the population density of European cities.

            And all the ones that don’t wind up moving to NYC.

              1. Mostly because every other American city has tried to ape the suburbs by replacing density with freeways and parking lots. Maybe that’s what people “wanted” as John says above, maybe not so much – but in any event it was our government that paid for it.

                1. There are huge amounts of green space around London, because it is basically illegal to develop it. The population grows, but the city can’t expand so density increases constantly. That is direct government involvement as well.

                  1. Oops . . . There are huge amounts of green space around London but it doesn’t get developed, because it is basically illegal to develop it.

                  2. To be fair, they don’t have endless thousands of square miles of empty land on the other side of those green spaces, like they would in America. They just have the next city over.

          2. I’ve never been to Moscow, but heard their metro system is pretty crazy. Don’t they also have these cold war era super deep metro stations that were supposed to double as nuclear bunkers? That’s the part the freaked out my mother who has acquired a fear of heights in her old age. She had to stick to the trams.


            1. They have some really, really deep metro stations. Oh, and the escalators are crap and breakdown on a regular basis.

              1. The pick I posted was from the one nearest our flat. It is one of the deeper ones here.

                1. Where is here?

                  1. Prague.

                    1. Perhaps if you put out a few more hints, my feeble mind would make the connection ;-).

                    2. Ha ha.

      2. And of course it only makes sense in very dense cities.

      3. Yes, there the massive subsidies go towards highways.

  7. You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the sheer brilliance of planners in Baltimore. They spent lots of money connecting I-95 to Howard Street and lots more ripping out lanes on Howard Street to build the light rail.

    1. In all of the times I have been to Baltimore, I have never seen more than one or two people on those trains. Where do they even go?

      1. It goes to the airport, but I don’t know much about it beyond that. Every time I go to downtown Baltimore, it feels like I’m on the set of the Walking Dead.

  8. FWIW, the “streetcar” in the illustration is actually a cable car – an even more antiquated form or transportation. AFAIK, the only cable cars still operating in the US are in San Francisco, where they are mainly used by tourists.

  9. “By wasting only $20 million today, Sen. Claire McCaskill saved taxpayers $80 million.”
    Yeah, if that’s the only thing he did that day. Who says it is?

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