Friday, April 19, 2019

Monorail! Now With Proposed New Expensive Connections To Toledo and Monroe!

The fever dreams of urban mass-transit planners and their love of trains is so quaint. At least it is until you realize taxpayers will be on the hook for these vanity choo-choo projects.

The Detroit Free Press: New 110-mph passenger train could connect Detroit, Toledo and Ann Arbor

A new study presented to Toledo officials looked at a rail concept — dubbed the T because of its layout — that would connect Detroit, Toledo and Ann Arbor and cities in between.

If it were built, you could leave Detroit and get to Toledo in about an hour, about the same as if you drove straight down I-75, assuming you didn't run into any construction detours, rush-hour traffic, major accidents — or make any stops to top off your tank with gas.

Toledo City Councilman Chris Delaney, who has championed the study, said Wednesday that the T would not be just for "the luxury of being able to board a train." He viewed passenger rail service as a means to longer-term economic development and prosperity.

Like we've never heard that before.

Note in the article they plan to use existing freight rail tracks, for at least some of the run. This means that their claimed 80-100 mile speed will not be so fast in reality as they're going to have to stop and wait for freight trains and no, you really won't get there as fast as you would in your own motor vehicle. Cost is estimated at $390-$524 million, and given the cost overruns we've seen on similar train projects, you can safely double those estimates to get an idea of the true cost for this project.

Of course, once you get to Toledo or Monroe, you're going to need to call an Uber or rent a car or something to get around, certainly negating the savings of taking a train, the ticket price for which will almost assuredly be higher than the mileage cost for driving that distance or will be heavily subsidized by you up front from your taxes - probably both.

These planners love the idea of train projects - nice, expensive, programs with lots of opportunity for graft, vanity naming rights, and union feather-bedding combined with their disdain of the proles for daring to drive themselves where and how they wish. Reality tends to indicate people don't actually want these trains to nowhere.

And an excellent example of the hand-waving and excuses made when these rail projects don't quite work as expected in reality is displayed in this very article when it looks at the regions latest choo-choo project that cost over $182 million:

In its first year, the QLINE was expected to deliver 3,000 to 5,000 rides a day, and it hit that goal for part of the year. But from November through March, average daily ridership dipped to 2,700, potentially because of colder weather.

Nice slight of hand there "potentially because of colder weather". Yes, because riders don't like to be in enclosed vehicles during colder weather, right? Not so much. Ridership of Qline didn't decline because of the weather, ridership actually dropped when riders had to actually pay for a train that moved as fast as a slow walk for all of 3.3 miles.

Also note that in order for QLine to break even, they need 5,000 rides per day, not 2,700 meaning guess who is going to pay the difference?

$524 million would be far better put to use repairing the multitude of potholes, bridges and infrastructure that already lies along that route. Not nearly as sexy, there's no opportunity to rename the route for favored persons or entities in that, and no guarantee of continued subsidies to operate it. But, people will actually use it to go where they want, how they want. Urban planners hate that.


Old 1811 said...

A good rule of thumb when you read these articles is to double the cost estimates and cut the revenue estimates in half. That will put you in the ball park of the real costs and benefits. The "experts" who write the estimates always overestimate the number of people who want to be stranded without wheels in a strange city and tied to someone else's schedule, underestimate the building and labor costs, forget to allow for inflation, and ignore the amount of inside dealing and graft.

ProudHillbilly said...

The Acela that runs up the east coast for about 500 miles was billed as "high speed rail." In reality, it is only able to be high speed for about 53 miles of that.

Ask the folks who commute from here to D.C. by train who has priority on the tracks. That's right, freight. So you get to "pull over" in order to allow freights to go by.

B said...

And with Freight tarin tracks, there is almost ZERO chance of going over 45 MPH. The Amtrack line south of Chicago to Nee Orleans used to go over a hundred (I've paced the trains that fast) when the tracks were new in Illinois. Now, 20 years later, they go 35. Unless the tracks are dedicated and maintained for speed, the freight lines won't last for high speed.

Chuck Pergiel said...

Something is wrong with this picture. Expensive train projects get proposed, approved, and prove to be financial sinks. We do this over and over again. Why? Maybe because nobody has proposed anything that might work better. Or maybe the train lobby has greater staying power. They're willing to go to all the meetings, for years if need be, in order to get the face time needed to sell their project. Maybe these are the kind of projects we need to keep the schmoozers occupied.

Old NFO said...

Simply amazing that they would forgo repairing existing infrastructure for this claptrap...

Eaton Rapids Joe said...

I tend to be charitable. It is a character flaw.

My read is that Social Justice Warriors and "Visionaries" are not capable of separating cause and effect. They assume the causality goes both ways.

If we build it, they will come.

They fail to understand Yogi Berra's wisdom, "If people don't want to come, you can't stop them."