Thursday, January 12, 2012

Detroit's Light Rail Redux - If At First You Don't Suceed, Get Subsidised Again!

The previous plan, now rejected as too expensive was allegedly going to cost around $300 million to build and require subsidies in the amount of $6 million per year if not more.

Now they're planning a shorter stretch of light rail:

Operating the 3.4-mile line would require $4 million to $10 million a year, depending on whose estimates you believe.
So a shorter rail line will cost $125 million to build and more per year to operate. Either that or they're being more honest about the costs now.

This is after Detroit Mayor Bing at the cancellation of the original rail project stated:
No public transit project will be successful if it requires operational subsidies from local or state government.

Well, it looks like Mayor Bing just changed his mind in less than a month, perhaps LaHood made him an offer he couldn't refuse:
"We see light rail as a part of regional transportation, so light rail is not dead," Bing said at a news conference with Snyder and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "It's back on the table" but as part of a plan for a wider bus rapid transit system.

I believe the definition of insanity was doing something over again and expecting a different result? In this case the insanity is due to the city's and indeed the federal government's obsession with rail-based transit.

Light rail in Detroit is going to be another subsidized, inefficient, and expensive failure, with the added fun of really messing up Woodward Ave to regular car traffic to boot. 3.4 miles of light rail is not enough to be a usable system, and the capital and operating costs are going to require yet another suburban bailout if this goes forward.


Scott said...

Here's another slant on it:

"We can't find money to fix the roads, keep the streetlights on, or provide police, fire, and ambulance service, but we can subsidize a puny, worthless, light rail system"

This whole thing is a "Bridge to Nowhere" all over again.

Aaron said...

Yes, but light rail is shiny!

Even better, they can name each station after a politician, and you really can't do that with a repaved road, a fixed streetlight, or a hired cop or firefighter.