Diary

Obama deRAILed

A day after becoming a populist fiscal FAUX hawk on freezing 12% of the budget after greatly increasing it, Obama will push high speed rail make-work to be globally cool.  Something about high speed rail is cool to liberals for some reason.  A DOWN PAYMENT of $8-$13 billion over a few years in 13 different corridors was pledged from the stimulus(gee how much of the $787 Dem re-election slush fund has even been spent yet? maybe 50%?).  No mention of total build cost.  Just an open ended down payment.

Anyone who has barely paid attention to various rail & transportation projects know costs spiral out of control, (various state/city light rail projects, big dig etc..)  Officials have said the $8-$13 billion was a “down payment” to get the projects started.   No mention of total build cost.   Try borrowing funds like that to build a home, with no mention of total build cost.   Another government spending bottomless pit and probably a huge diversion of money to unions and foreign corporations.

Most of the technology and know-how for high speed rail is outside of the US.  Foreign companies are already knocking at the door for taxpayer money and I bet dollars to donuts, they get the lions share.  How stimulative is that going to be? other than for French companies? and make-work for unions?

There is nothing wrong with high speed rail where it makes sense.  Common sense will tell you that rail can be great in certain areas where there is tremendous density to support it.   The problem is the U.S. has hardly enough density to justify this type of transportation with exception to a few of the only very largest, dense cities.  For the majority, buses make the most sense.  They are flexible to respond to various routing changes and needs.  Try moving a $2billion dollar light rail track to a new developed area.  Heck, there are even buses with electric motors and buses running on natural gas.   But I guess ‘welfare on wheels’ isn’t cool anymore, ‘redistribution on rails’ is the new game in town.  I wonder if we’ll see a few rail cars get a hip makeover on pimp my ride?

Minneapolis metro light rail cost overruns were in the hundreds of millions, and they’re still planning on more lines here, of course with federal government grants.  For the existing lines in MN, with ever rising operating costs, passenger fares only cover less than 20% of annual OPERATING costs, let alone construction/capital costs.   Only 20%.

That would be like the government buying you a brand new car, and paying for 80% of your maintenance costs to boot.  Wow, I’d love a deal like that too!  In response you always get the happy rider story in the news, “gee I took it to a baseball game” or ” I ride it to work and save money” but the overall numbers will never add up.

It’d be one thing if ridership fees paid for most of the construction and operating costs but pathetic numbers that never even come close to justifying the project leave this heap of garbage only for dirty government hands to waste more taxpayer money on.

At least there is some good news w/ the proposed new MN rail line:

St. Paul and Ramsey County officials were concerned about the track’s connection to the Union Depot; officials at the U wanted a tunnel under campus or a loop to the north; officials from Minnesota Public Radio threatened to leave town due to noise and vibration concerns;

MPR has made enough noise themselves and would do fine leaving town and doing MPR from somewhere else, maybe SanFran?

BTW:   When looking up some stuff about light rail I came across this one:

MN puppet theater receives $25K in stimulus money

I don’t know what’s in the water here (electing Ventura, Franken, light rail, and now stimulus for puppeteers) but I’m drinkin bottled water from now on.