August 16, 2010

Scott Walker on the high-speed rail line between Madison and Milwaukee: "I will put a stop to this boondoggle the day I take office."



Ed Morrissey says:
Only fifty-five permanent jobs? [For $810 million. $14.5 million per job.] Wisconsin shouldn’t be the only state demanding an explanation of this boondoggle. And we thought that spending $300K or more for every claimed job “saved or created” was bad. Porkulus looks like bargain basement in comparison.

128 comments:

edutcher said...

What do we expect? It's the Chicago Way.

The problem for Walker is that he'll have to deliver on his promise.

Dead Julius said...

Damn that was an impressive commercial. Note no mention of the dreaded R word. I generally go liberal but I would vote for him in a second.

New Julius rule: Any non-Democrat that promises to fight stupid spending and big government and doesn't use the R word in his or her ads gets my support and, if possible, my vote. I don't need to know any more than that.

mesquito said...

How far is it from Milwaukee to Madison? How much am I, down here in Texas, expected to pitch in for this tansportation wonder? If it's more that $0.00 it's a boondoggle.

Dead Julius said...

Oh Scott I love the way you say "boondoggle".

Jon said...

His tie is too long.

traditionalguy said...

The truth is coming out all over. The government guys for 10 years have hypnotized us with billion dollar Transportation Planning earmarks for what they know can never be built because there is no ridership base that can to pay to operate empty trains. Guess who gets the mega dollar contracts for this useless professional work? Why the donors to the government guys campaigns always get it. Now why does this Walker guy remind me of Palin so much? They both are willing to take on the crooks in their own parties.

rick said...

The term "SAVED or created" especially the SAVED part, is the biggest fraud since the term Social Security "Trust Fund" was dropped on us rubes.

whytri said...

It's a fallacy to equate the total cost of building/rehabbing an infrastructure with the number of permanent jobs created. The Interstate Highway System has spent hundreds of billions of tax dollars, yet has created almost no permanent jobs -- and no one is calling it a boondoggle.

Irene said...

Mark Neumann is in trouble. Compare this ad.

*cringe*

former law student said...

High speed rail? In Wisconsin? Nobody really needs to go between Madison and Milwaukee at high speed anyways, especially in the summer. Cheeseheads are used to enduring road construction backups in the summer. Let them wait as the expressway closes down to one lane.

Oxbay said...

Good luck Scott Walker.

Michael Haz said...

That is a terrific ad. The half-fast train between Milwaukee and Madison is an utter waste of money.

The interstate works just fine. The Badger Bus works just fine. The MegaBus works just fine.

That damn train project should be killed.

And a big shout-out to Gov. Jim Doyle for giving the no-bid contract to build the train cars to a company in Spain, despite an equally qualified company being located in Milwaukee. Guess which company greased the Governors' fat palm?

JAL said...

@ whytri The Interstate Highway System has spent hundreds of billions of tax dollars, yet has created almost no permanent jobs -- and no one is calling it a boondoggle.

Care to explain this? I mean I have a couple ideas on my mind that are pluses for how the Interstate Highway System contributes to the economy ....

Expat(ish) said...

@whytri "The Interstate Highway System has spent hundreds of billions of tax dollars, yet has created almost no permanent jobs"

Seriously dude, can you not think of one permanent job created by the interstate? The silly among us might say "cops" but you might also ponder trucking companies, repair contractors, hell, paint for the lines.

_XC

former law student said...

The interstate works just fine. The Badger Bus works just fine. The MegaBus works just fine.

Yeah, let's be dependent for transportation on the good will of various sheikhs and mullahs, Commies in South America, Socialists to our North, and Anarchists to our South.

High speed rail, OTOH, would be powered by electricity generated by good old Southern Illinois stripmine coal -- I got your fossil fuel right here.

Because I Said So said...

Why is that man with the gigantic red tie leaving his litter on the street?

traditionalguy said...

Why cannot either political party agree to become become dependent upon the Alaskan ANWR sheiks and the offshore American oil sheiks? Some mega bucks have passed hands to stop those projects. Now who do we know that is a good oil development negotiator and also fights the crooks in her own party as if she wants to see America succeed? Hmmm. It's not Soros and friends who have staked their fortunes on offshore Brazilian oil and windmills in place of oil here in the USA. The will to fight and win in this jungle of political-economic thieves may just take nothing less than a Grizzly Bear.

rick said...

Whytri said "The Interstate Highway System has spent hundreds of billions of tax dollars, yet has created almost no permanent jobs -- and no one is calling it a boondoggle."

What bizarre statement.

Construction jobs, by there nature are temporary. They only last as long as the project...and then on to the next project. The exception, of course being the Big Dig in Massachusetts.

knox said...

Ohio has a similar pointless "high-speed-rail" plan. Open toilet lid, insert cash.

AJ Lynch said...

Very good ad.

Why do we subsidize mass transit anyway? It only works best for longtime riders and govt drones par excellence like Joe Biden who never had to get anywhere fast or on time. Everytime he boarded an Amtrak train,the taxpayer chipped in $50 to the real cost of his ride. That was a pretty sweet deal for Bite Me Biden!

Lastly, wouldn't it be cheaper & more efective to add a dedicated bus lane to intercity highways where the buses could go like 100 mph?

Freeman Hunt said...

So does Northwest Arkansas. Northwest Arkansas!

k*thy said...

Mike, last I heard, Talgo is setting up a plant in Milwaukee to build the train cars. They say it'll create 125 jobs directly at their plant and 450 to suppliers. One, check your information on who and where and two, where is that number of 55 coming from?

David said...

High speed rail makes sense between large population centers which are congested and difficult to access by automobile, bus, etc. So maybe between Chicago and Milwaukee, for example. But Milwaukee and Madison? The whole idea is nuts.

traditionalguy said...

The high speed train will be empty and the true cost per occupied passenger seat per trip to Madison from Milwaukee will be about $700. Those facts would shut down the rail line faster than you can say Death Panel. But have no fear; it will never be built unless automobiles running on gasoline are outlawed by the EPA to please the God Gore's cash chakra.

bagoh20 said...

$810 million is about $1000 per resident of the two cities combined.

David said...

Way to be ignorant, Kathy.

The Talgo "plant" is going to build cars for the already existing Chicago-Milwaukee line. The state has an "option" for Talgo to build cars for Milwaukee-Madison, but that's for the future, and this time perhaps the state won't run a no-bid, sweetheart contract and will let American companies bid for the work.

So Talgo is making its investment based on a no bid contract that has nothing to do with the Madison boondoggle.

tim maguire said...

So is this guy a serious candidate?

Because he sounds great and usually the only ones who have anything of substance to say are the hopeless long shots.

bagoh20 said...

I employ more than 55 people, and I never got me no boondoggle money. Wasup Madisonions? Spread the love.

MadisonMan said...

Last week, or two weeks ago, I read something that it would be very costly for the state to back out of this deal. As in they'd have to repay all the money spent so far (so far meaning when the next Gov takes office).

It would not surprise me if Walker ignored this fact. He is the guy who said he'd save the state money by not hiring people for jobs that are now sitting vacant.

It wouldn't surprise me, either, to learn that the person quoted about the state having to pay back $$ was just blowing smoke.

Dead Julius: Walker doesn't mention Republican in any of his ads. I've seen plenty where he doesn't even mention the office he's running for.

LonewackoDotCom said...

The problem - and I know this is going to fly m-i-l-e-s parsecs over the head of some of Althouse's tea parties fans - is that fiscal conservatives aren't just about blocking waste. They're about restricting government spending and oversight. If they got their way we *might* have gone to the moon, and we might not all be living in Superfund sites, but...

Regarding the stimulus, here's a shocking statistic you won't hear about from the teapartiers. If they were actually serious about opposing Obama - and weren't just having a slow-motion tantrum like little kids - that'd be one of the first things they'd discuss at public meetings. Instead, they just wave signs, throw tantrums, and play little dress-up games.

bagoh20 said...

For $810 million I will personally hire 555 people to mix drinks and serve the good people of Madison at an all summer long burning man party. Hell, we'll even get Dylan to play for Ann and we'll drive all the women home.

All inclusive, and no messy construction. Call me.

Addendum: Lonewacko is not invited. He'll scare the women.

MadisonMan said...

Now I see, according to the link, that it was Ray LaHood who said the state will have to repay the money. Time will tell to see if that's required.

I should have said 'posted without looking at the linked-to article' (Slow internet at home)

Real Debate said...

I love the whole, the interstates cost x point.

Yes they do, and they are paid for through fuel taxes, registration fees, etc.

In short, they are paid for b y the people who, you know, use them...

Real Debate said...

K*athy, the 55 number comes from Governor Doyle.

That is the number of jobs expected to run the line when built.

Maguro said...

Right...so you leave the car behind and take a train to Milwaukee. All that does is leave you stuck in Milwaukee without any way to get around.

Perhaps you're supposed to rent a Segway or something?

former law student said...

All that does is leave you stuck in Milwaukee without any way to get around.

Sure, it's not as if Milwaukee had a central business district, a convention center, or a lakefront festival ground.

Maguro said...

Sure, it's not as if Milwaukee had a central business district, a convention center, or a lakefront festival ground.

I'm sure downtown Milwaukee is very exciting. But how many people travel from Madison to Milwaukee in order to stay at a downtown hotel and get around town on foot or on buses? Enough to justify the cost of this project?

AJ Lynch said...

If it's $810 million to build it, how much will it cost per year to give it a taxpayer subsidy? Maybe $20 Million? For that they could buy 1,000 new vans a year and commuters could use the vans to drive between the cities [just leave the van at the terminal] and they would not have to spend the $810 Million nor build the train line.

Freeman Hunt said...

Cheaper by a bit.

AJ Lynch said...

Freeman:

That is in line with my comment about a high speed bus line only your link seems like a better and more advanced way. I don't know what a yuan is worth so i is hard to say if it's cost effective but it sure looks cool.

AJ Lynch said...

Btw Americans would support new technology and ideas like that Freeman. Especially if they actually work and are not enormously expensive.

kimsch said...

The problem with rail is that it can only go from "here" to "there". Busses can easily re-route and if a particular route is under-employed, it can be dropped in favor of a route that will be used more heavily.

wv: singi

Seven Machos said...

Why won't anyone listen to Wacko?

The mind reels.

Methadras said...

They've been trying to pull this horseshit in California forever.

Jason (the commenter) said...

America doesn't have the population density to support the infrastructure we already have. Building more is just stupid. I'm glad somebody has taken the obvious step of pointing out Obama's bridge to nowhere.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Freeman Hunt: Cheaper by a bit.

The odd thing about that invention is that it was thought up in China, where people don't drive in straight lines. On the other hand, they do have some of the best drivers in the world; if anyone can adapt to it, they will be able to.

I don't see it ever working in America though, we're pretty incompetent with cars.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

Ed Morrissey: "Only fifty-five permanent jobs? [For $810 million. $14.5 million per job.] Wisconsin shouldn’t be the only state demanding an explanation of this boondoggle."


Jeez, Ed ... how many permanent government jobs do you want to be created with these tax dollars? Would 100 government jobs - and the bloated pensions they come with - be better than 55 government jobs? Barack Obama is not creating private sector jobs with this $850 million Ed! He's creating government jobs for AFSCME union goons who donate millions to his campaigns. It's a political payoff.

And not for nothing, but Scott Walker isn't proposing smaller government. He's advocating taking the rail money and instead spending it on construction of roads and bridges. The money still gets spent. He's just moving money around so that he can line the pockets of his campaign donors rather than the Democrat Party campaign donors.

How is that smaller government? It's not. It's more of the same!

Show me the candidate who wants to take that $850 million and return it to its rightful owners. Then we can start talking about "smaller government."

Walker is nothing more than a small-D democrat with a fancier tie.

Ahem ... Tea Party! ... we have a RINO here.

Jason (the commenter) said...

New "Hussein" Ham: Show me the candidate who wants to take that $850 million and return it to its rightful owners. Then we can start talking about "smaller government."

You mean the people it was borrowed from. Because this isn't taxpayer money, this was borrowed from somebody. Show me a candidate who wants to raise taxes and massively cut spending to pay back our debts and then we can talk about a candidate who has a minimal level of competence.

Taxpayers don't deserve a single penny back until our debts are paid off with interest. Anyone who says different is a crook.

lemondog said...

For decades Japan and Europe have had high-speed rail systems to help cope with oil dependency.

In view of the coming oil crunch we should be taking action in building an extensive high-speed rail system through-out the US.

With the drilling moratorium we are importing approximately 70% of our oil. A while ago T. Boone Pickens estimated US cost as $500 billion outflow. As scarcity and prices increase so will the cost.

Instead of sending US wealth to the sheiks and Chavez we should invest in this country's transport infrastructure.

Milwaukee-Madison may be a bad idea but we need a long-term plan for the country.

Jason (the commenter) said...

lemondog: For decades Japan and Europe have had high-speed rail systems to help cope with oil dependency.

That's not true. Japan built high-speed rail to stimulate its economy. Europe built them to connect the continent. Countries like France have invested heavily in nuclear power plants to cope with oil dependency.

In view of the coming oil crunch we should be taking action in building an extensive high-speed rail system through-out the US.

No one would use them. We don't have the population density. We barely use most of the roads we have now. If we worry about oil dependency then we should be outlawing zoning laws that limit density, investing in buses, and making it much easier to build nuclear power plants. Pretty much everything else is wasteful.

mesquito said...

Gee, Lemondog. We already have a functioning mass-transit system that will get me from Dallas to New York in about two hours. Will your high-speed rail do any better?

lemondog said...

Totally agree on the need to build nuclear plants. It takes years to clear the red tape and finally build a nuclear plant. Because of years of congressional inaction, we will be faced with an oil crisis before we are prepared to handle it.

You may be correct on the rationale for Japan/Europe building high-speed rail but the point is that it helps to alleviate each with its oil dependency, particularly Japan.

We need a better interconnected transport system to alleviate clogged highways and moderate our oil dependency.

Lockestep said...

OK, I think I have my math right here. If 1000 people a day commute on the line, at 250 work days a year over a 40-year period the construction cost is $81 per trip.
My Jetta would burn less than $10 in diesel to make the round trip, and I don't have to pay someone to drive it.

Issob Morocco said...

Tsk, tsk, they are 55 permanent Union Jobs.

Pogo said...

Bend over, America, the Democrats are in charge.


NTTAWWT.

Ari Tai said...

Why is it so much cheaper (factors of 2+) for me to ship a ton of goods coast-to-coast in the U.S. v. the same ton from France's north coast to say, Nice, or just Paris to Frankfurt?

Because we're using our tracks for freight, not for people. Europe is still using trucks. We're using fewer and fewer long-haul trucks relative to overall shipping. And that means cheaper goods and services. So our poor can afford to consume (and do consume) as much (if not live as well as) the majority of (old) EC’s nations’ middle-class. And for our own concern about single-person transport (in)efficiencies, unless we cram people together at European city densities, at least we know one person (the driver) in a car is traveling to where they want to be (compared to the 75% in a bus who are traveling elsewhere before getting to where desired.. not counting the overhead of a driver, and the even more spectacular waste of an empty bus. Or a bus underwater with people stranded wanting to get out of the way of a (natural or not) disaster).

Markets do work. And free markets by free citizens and their enterprise require less faith in its machinery to deliver the greatest common good than all the other faiths (i.e. faith in the parent, the king, the priest, the intellectual, the central planner, the dictatorship of a majority, etc. to allocate resources for the greatest common good). The pity is that all these other faiths like to gang up on the first when what they need to do is hold up a mirror and admire their own failures before criticizing and attempting to fix v. accepting the costs of using that instrument as is.

Re: energy as fueling the terrorists. It makes no difference if the U.S. stops consuming it’s 5-10-15% share of mid-east oil if the rest of the world has unmet needs (at any price, save if we’re willing to use the military to deny it to them). Remember that replacing a fossil fuel requires competing not with the first barrel of oil pumped, but the last (the marginal price – the price of the last empty seat on the airplane 15 minutes before departure). A buggy-whip was never cheaper than when the automobile began to compete with the horse-cart. Which means the way to deny fossil-fuel rich countries their coin is to make their energy sources legacy and non-price-competitive. So any successful “alternative” has to be an order of magnitude less expensive than $2 a barrel at the wellhead – and 1 cent per kwh at the demarc. Which leaves only (and only if largely unregulated save perhaps a requirement that the owners/managers live next door) next-generation nuclear (LFTR etc. See BillG's TED talk about the need for 100 well-funded start-ups doing research in this area, maybe five will succeed at making fossil fuels too expensive to use, even at their marginal cost - for any purpose).

HDHouse said...

ohhhh the dreaded public mass transit.

You can go back and actually do some research on the early stages of this proposal and find out that it is about 10 years in the making - probably more - but that would take away from the fun of the soundbite and the quick hit political ad now wouldn't it.

There should be a rule that if you are moved enough to write about something with an opinion that you should be made to do a minute's worth of research before you type.

http://www.cityofmadison.com/planning/hsr/hsr-faqs.htm

Michael said...

It is about 80 miles between the two cities. So you drive to the station in Milwaukee and park your car. You wait twenty minutes for the train. You take the splendid high speed train to Madison. You get off and you... Wait for a cab? Rent a car? Walk? At 160 miles per hour the train ride would take half an hour. The drive in your own car would take a bit over an hour. Not a very efficient use of time this train.

Planners desperately want cities to get denser with happy citizens sipping lattes in cafes near the station. Just like in Europe. Where every planner has spent time musing over this wonderful system. That. Will. Not. Work. Between. Milwaukee. And. Madison.

AllenS said...

10 years in the making

And, what does that translate into dollars?

Pogo said...

America could use a good old revolution about now.

HDHouse said...

Ari Tai said...

well I have no idea what he said as it switched on/off between sense and nonsense.

The price of oil isn't just of interest to the middle east. We unfortunately have domestic oil companies and production that rides their coattails as prices move up and down but mostly up and as long as the world consumes about 100% of every drop produced you can't fix a price downward unless you want to give it away which would not be free enterprise that makes sense.

The topic is mass transit and it is true that the comparison to Europe is partially correct but you will remember that the various Euro-nations developed individually and not as part of a cohesive grid like we enjoy here. Rail transportation for people not cargo developed internationally from the onset. Distribution of goods has always always always been the problem there. Distribution of people (by mass transit) has always been the problem here.

Pogo said...

And Scott Walker should stop wearing his dad's ties.

AJ Lynch said...

The quiet success of the Bolt Bus and the Mega Bus lines put the lie to the idea that mass transit can only be done with massive infusions of taxpayer money.

How come the media avoids writing about the success of those two private intercity bus companies?

AJ Lynch said...

So ten years in the making means it's a super wonderful idea?

Joe said...

Lemondog, "their dependency on oil"? Really, so if there's no oil oh say tomorrow, what happens to Japan and Europe..oh yeah COLLAPSE. Because oil has a competitive advantage over electriciity/coal or any other fuel. Why do you think we we use it so much? It's efficient, available, and transportable, and mutable...at a given price. The only way coal, or solar or wind or geo-thermal or bio-fuels can compete is if you rig the market and have oil subsidize the other fuels.

Japan and Europe have hi-speed rail because they have Greens, and lobbyists too.

There is not ONE mass transit sytem, bus, subway, or rail that breaks even in America...these are vanity projects for people to "feel good" about and that cater to the upper classes, in the case of rail.

Mass transit will be cost-effective when Greenies make gas $7.00 a gallon and impose such restrictions on the manufacture of automobiles that they are priced out of the range of ordinary users. Oh sure Obama, Biden, Saha, Melia, and Michelle will still have access...and the Kennedy's and the Kerry's will still be able to afford them, but the rest, not so much...but it's all for the best, Ma Dear.

Damon said...

Fifty-five permanent jobs... Jobs are a misnomer for "successful project" or "healthy economy." The real measure is profits, and then profits create jobs. Focusing on the jobs is a very poor measurement for success.

TosaGuy said...

"Let them wait as the expressway closes down to one lane."

An 8 miles stretch of I-94 that connects Milw to Mad is under complete reconstruction with the westbound side taken down to dirt. They project still maintains 2 lanes in both directions.

"High speed rail, OTOH, would be powered by electricity generated by good old Southern Illinois stripmine coal -- I got your fossil fuel right here."

This medium-speed train will run on diesel engines, not overhead electric wires used for streetcars -- that is Tom Barretts Milwaukee-only boondoogle.

"...last I heard, Talgo is setting up a plant in Milwaukee to build the train cars." As a result, Milwaukee-based Super Steel, which also can make train cars, filed for bankruptcy.

"I'm sure downtown Milwaukee is very exciting. But how many people travel from Madison to Milwaukee in order to stay at a downtown hotel and get around town on foot or on buses? Enough to justify the cost of this project?"

Don't worry, Milw Mayor Tom Barrett is spending a hundred million or so of fed money to build an electric trolley that will connect the rich condo owners along the lake to the Bradley Center -- which houses Herb Kohl's basketball team. It won't serve a single underprivileged area.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Bike lanes. Cheaper and we'll starve the oil shieks and tackle obesity all at the same time.

As you were.

Bryan C said...

"The real measure is profits, and then profits create jobs. Focusing on the jobs is a very poor measurement for success."

That's true, especially if they're public-sector jobs which are taxpayer funded anyway.

But high-speed passenger rail in the US is a money-losing proposition, and will not make a profit. So when they have vast amounts of taxpayer money spent with no profits, and no prospect of profits, then I suppose this lame "jobs created" number is the best the backers of the project can come up with.

TosaGuy said...

Walker won a special election for County Exec (a non-partisan position) after the the Tom Ament was forced to resign after a public employee pension deal that gave out more money at retirement than the person earned while working. Walker is eight years ahead of the curve on the growing outcry against excessive public employee compensation. He has won twice since with convincing majorities by doing what he campaigned to do....I have no doubt he will kill this train and eat the one-time cost of reimbursing the feds for Doyle's irresponsible rush to get the thing started.

This is a winning issue because at least 95 percent of WI folks will never ride this train. Select folks in Madison may love it, but Oshkosh, Green Bay, Eau Claire and Wausau see it as just another waste of their money.

HDHouse said...

Joe said...
"The only way coal, or solar or wind or geo-thermal or bio-fuels can compete is if you rig the market and have oil subsidize the other fuels."

I'm sure that you don't remember $.29 a gallon gas but I do and the first big spat with the middle east under Nixon when it went crazy to like $.60-.70 a gallon and there were shortages? The wellhead price was still about $2.32. Guess not. This is 1973 just in case you forgot.

Oil his heavily subsidized - look at the tax breaks they got under Mr. Bush. We are the ones that pay the tax on the consumption end of things be it in the car or embedded in home heating oil prices or as a surcharge in electric bills.

25 years ago there were tax incentives to install solar and strangely those went away. I frankly think it is horrible public policy not to mandate some solar in new home construction and provide tax incentives to people who convert or install. Wind turbines need not look like helicopters (see Chicago rooftop turbines).

We are going to run out of oil someday and the last time I looked the sun was shinning and the wind was blowing and they are both free to use and use endlessly.

TosaGuy said...

Tom Barrett lives a few blocks from Wauwatosa. A few years ago Milwaukee passed a wheel tax to pay for road maintenance. One of the first roads completed after the tax was put in place was Washington Boulevard, which runs in front of Barrett's house.

Pogo said...

"...the last time I looked the sun was shinning and the wind was blowing and they are both free to use and use endlessly."

They are free?
Please send me some of those free wind turbines and free solar cells.
Thank you, hdhouse.

chr1 said...

40 yrs into the future:

I picture a really lefty prof, tired after a long day of grant-seeking in Milwaukee, clickety-clacking (unions are on strike, no money to repair track/replace train) across the lush Wisconsin landscape (having passed all the graffitti tagged, potentially dangerous inner city platforms), setting into a food flecked seat and thinking to its gender neutral self: "Now, this is progress"

Yes we can!

TosaGuy said...

If solar panels and wind turbines were to even to break even then Walmart and Target would put both on top of every store. They might even take a small loss because the PR and resulting ad campaign would be worth it. I think Walmart would love to stick to Target on this and Target would love to do it because they are Target, but the economics behind it don't make since for either of them.

Sofa King said...

HDHouse -

Solar and wind power generate electricity.

What does this have to do with oil shortages?

ALP said...

I am a frequent user of public transportation between Seattle/Tacoma. I loath and detest driving. Always have - the first thing I'd do upon winning the lottery would be to hire a driver.

In most cases, I'll choose the mental freedom that riding the bus provides. I have thought for years that dedicated bus lanes were the way to go. The distances traveled are not that great - it is always traffic that slows down the trip. Dedicated lanes would solve this easily. Unfortunately, simple solutions are not as popular and sexy.

I am frequently asked why I don't use Sound Transit's train between TAC/SEA. I don't because it takes LONGER than the bus to get to Seattle. Millions/billions were spent to make a trip between two cities longer.

garage mahal said...

NO NO NO! Get off my lawn!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

As already pointed out, the REAL problem with public transportation projects like this one is:

How do you get around once you get there? You have to have a really really comprehensive inner city system of public transportation. Otherwise you get to the train station and you are stranded or unable to get to where you need to go without an expensive cab ride or making many changes from bus to bus to street car on the way.

San Jose tried to institute a system. When you got to your stop, in a less than savory area, you had to walk for blocks in the heat, generally in heels and business attire, to stand and wait for the next bus. People just don't use the system and it was a huge waste of money.

Until they solve this problem the program is a complete and total waste of money.

Sofa King said...

TosaGuy -

Actually, Walmart has been outfitting some stores with micro wind and solar projects.

http://walmartstores.com/Sustainability/7775.aspx.

AllenS said...

What is everyone wearing?

Michael Haz said...

The proposed humpty-hundred million dollar rail system between Milwaukee and Madison doesn't actually include a new rail route. It will travel on an established rail right-of-way now being used to haul heavy freight.

Taxpayer dollars will be used to make massive upgrades to the rail bed, which will continue to be owned by the railways, which are Canadian Pacific and Wisconsin Southern. See handy map here.

Wisconsin taxpayers will pay for all railbed maintenance, while the railbed owners will continue to haul heavy freight. This is a heavily used railbed; the half-fast train will be fit in between scheduled freight trains.

Hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money will inure to the benefit of the railway operators. And Wisconsin tax payers will be on the hook in perpetuity for maintaining the tracks for the heavy-haul operators.

The newly-remodeled, privately owned Amtrak terminal in downtown Milwaukee is a massive money loser. It was more than $300,000 behind in property tax payments to the City of Milwaukee. The payment was made earlier this month, courtesy of Wisconsin tax payers.

Just another waste of taxpayer money.

Fred4Pres said...

What is with the left and trains? Did mommy and daddy deny them a set of trains when they were kids?

TMink said...

Yeah, these rail lines are ripe for corruption. We have a light rail system between Nashville and the smallest, slowest growing county neighbor. Not to Murfreesboro, which is growing at a frantic pace, not Knoxville, so the line would be full every weekend, but Lebanon, Tennessee.

Special interests and cronies got the slop. Too typical.

Trey

Michael Haz said...

What is with the left and trains? Did mommy and daddy deny them a set of trains when they were kids?

Upper and middle class lefties want to ride sleek trains so that they don't have to get on dirty busses with stinky and loud lower-class lefties.

Joe said...

“We are going to run out of oil someday and the last time I looked the sun was shinning and the wind was blowing and they are both free to use and use endlessly.”

HDHouse, it’s fairly obvious Energy Economics is NOT your strong point. Oh to be sure it’s not mine, but in this case, “The One-Man is King.”

Oil peaked, in inflation-adjusted terms at it’s higher than 1979 price in the Summer of 2008? And has since fallen to its 1974 price-level. Even at the 1979/2008 level, it did not make economic sense to purchase a hybrid! Gasoline had to reach and SUSTAIN $5 a gallon to make up for the higher “upfront” costs. So even now, gasoline is cheaper than other fuels, for its specific uses.

Now as to wind and solar…are they really blowing and shining? All the time? Don’t you live in NYC? Give me a call in October, November, December, or January, won’t you; we’ll discuss the sunshine freely available to you. Alternatively, let me propose this, YOU use solar and wind, EXCLUSIVELY, in NYC…post us, when you can, about the results, would you? Also, run OpusOne Media EXCLUSIVELY on solar and wind; get back to us, before the Chapter11/13 proceedings about how that worked out, would you?

My point being, that NO, they aren’t blowing or shining and they certainly aren’t free….in fact they quite often don’t blow or shine, and their conversion to electricity is costly, more costly than coal or oil or natural gas. That wind and solar are NOT replacement energy sources, because of cost AND the fact they are unreliable and cannot sustain the base load of the economic system. If you wish to dispute this, by all means take yourself off the grid and operate your house/condo and your business SOLEY upon them. As I say, we will await your sporadic attempts to contact us.

roesch-voltaire said...

I agree why on earth would we want to spend government money in Wisconsin when we can spend another trillion dollars in Iraq to improve their infrastructure-- let us get our priorities in order.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Oil his heavily subsidized - look at the tax breaks they got under Mr. Bush.

This sentence alone I think really shows the fundamental difference between conservatives and liberals. As a conservative, I don't view allowing an individual or company to keep more of it's earnings as a subsidy.

We are going to run out of oil someday and the last time I looked the sun was shinning and the wind was blowing and they are both free to use and use endlessly.

Yes they are and if the technology was there that allowed cities like, oh say, Chicago or New York to be powered by the Sun or Wind my guess it would have been done a long time ago.

Look at it from the Euro perspective, They are far more dependent on foreign oil than we are yet progressive nations such as France have eschewed free Sun and Wind in favor of nuclear power. If the tech existed, it would have already been advanced by those nations most dependent on fossil fuels.

Scott M said...

What is with the left and trains? Did mommy and daddy deny them a set of trains when they were kids?

Trains speak to both sides of the leftist's soul (yes they do have them, even though most would deny it). Blowing up trains a la Che speaks to the radical revolutionary side and forcing them to run on time, little people be damned, speaks to the Mussolini side.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I agree why on earth would we want to spend government money in Wisconsin when we can spend another trillion dollars in Iraq...

Indeed. Its better to have wasteful spending at home than abroad. I say cut off all foreign aid, Iraq, Afghanistan, Hati, etc. Nothing says going native like that.

c3 said...

What does this have to do with oil shortages?

Well this will connect those dots.

But unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your view) we will then use more of this, with more of this.

Complicated

TosaGuy said...

Thanks for the link, Sofa King!

Sofa King said...

RE: The Left and trains, it is clearly a case of Euro-infatuation. I call it the "trainsitive" law: Europe has trains, lefties love Europe, ergo lefties love trains.

Of course, trains do have their uses. They are good for connecting very high density urban centers that are less than a few hundred miles apart.

The problem is that in the United States, we took a very efficient and effective transportation system, our air transportation system, and done everything in our power to make it a pain to use, to the extent that people wistfully look back on 19th century modes of transport.

Here's a radical idea for dramatically improving transportation in the United States: make the security protocol for a plane with less than one hundred passengers the same as for a train, i.e. almost none. Add more runways and if we are going to build high speed trains, make them connect the airport with the city center.

Palladian said...

"What is with the left and trains?"

All the cool, hip European countries have them, and the ultimate dream of transnational hipster lefties is to be just like one of the cool, hip European countries.

As a non-driver I happen to like trains, and I think some parts of the country are populated densely enough to make good train travel profitable, especially given how awful flying has become. Efficient rail lines in the northeast, for instance, makes sense.

Unfortunately what we have is Amtrak, a hideous, money-losing, unpleasant, quasi-public utility run by the same kind of people who have flushed the New York MTA down the crapper.

Joe said...

Someone mentioned that to back out now might cost the state money...here's an idea. RUN THE NUMBERS. What will be immediate cost of backing out, versus the twenty year cost of maintenance, construction, and the like? I'm betting that it's better to cut your losses NOW, than run the boondoggle for twenty years.

At a minimum Walker needs to require teh road bed users to pay their share of maintenance AND that the Authority MUST break even within 5 years of initiation of the rail sevice....and that they must produce a plan, NOW that demonstrates, credibly, their ability to do so. Should either of these proposals be rejected, it would be wise to cancel the project.

This project shows the usual collaboration of business and the public...the businesses, the freight lines, are piggy-backing off the public, and the elites are allowing this to further their ends, psychological and material, on the backs of others. Big Government and Big Busineess aren't enemies...or your friend.

HDHouse said...

@hoosierdaddy

the point was that oil is heavily subsidized by tax breaks, depletion allowances and a whole raft of things that yes result in profits but no diversification against a finite supply.

i agree that nuclear is way under utilized and can be done safely however again, this technology, when you take away the government paid R&D costs and the waste disposal services (again government paid) nuclear actually would have a very high cost - higher in fact according to the DOE than conventional coal or gas fired plants. but it is a good idea and we need it. no question.

the issue however is that there has been no major and long term set of incentives placed into the solar and wind R&D programs. You are looking to power up Chicago or NYC this way that that can't happen. But if a million homes when 75% solar and wind it would make a difference.

I urge you to look at the companies that put solar on flat roof buildings (supermarkets, box stores) and offer 20 year fixed electrical cost contracts because over 20 years the savings to the stores and the consistent fixed payments are substantial and attractive.

What does this have to do with a rail system? Plenty. It has to do with looking past the end of your nose...not yours necessarily...but the collective noses of people who think only for this minute.

Alex said...

High speed rail, OTOH, would be powered by electricity generated by good old Southern Illinois stripmine coal -- I got your fossil fuel right here.

So screw our environment so we can get back at the mullahs?

Michael said...

Let's do run the numbers as they say. 810 Billion at 3% constant (this is a govt. project) equals debt service of 24.3 million annually in debt service or 66,575 per day. Assuming operating expenses of 70% (highly improbable by the way) of gross the line will have to gross 222K per day to break even. At $20 per head (equal to the cost of gas for the trip) that would equate to a ridership of 11,095 souls willing to take the train 365 days per year or 555 people on each leg ten times a day. How does this look so far? These numbers have no amortization of the loan, no capital improvement costs, no costs for repairs and replacement.

Alex said...

What does this have to do with a rail system? Plenty. It has to do with looking past the end of your nose...not yours necessarily...but the collective noses of people who think only for this minute.

When we're bankrupt? It's called fiscal prudence. But liberals LOVE spending money they don't have.

Chip Ahoy said...

No lo me gusta. Demasiado Obama.

Sofa King said...

Another bonus for air travel: turbine engines can run on 100% biofuel.

bagoh20 said...

I got the perfect solution: The people of Madison and Milwaukee should just stay home. What makes any of you think the others want to see your mug out in public anyway? Most especially not for $810 million. If you need to go that far every day, then move or work from home. This is the last time I'm coming in here to solve your problems. I'm busy!

Quasimodo said...

HDHouse said:
"Oil his heavily subsidized - look at the tax breaks they got under Mr. Bush."

A tax break is NOT a subsidy. The economic ignorance of the typical liberal (or do you prefer "progressive now?) voter is frightening.

Maguro said...

Good call, bagoh. Just tell the cheeseheads stay at home and be carbon-neutral.

They could do videoconferences, that's good enough for Ellen Page.

AJ Lynch said...

Michael above proved it's a money losing boondoggle. Nice job!

Perhaps Mayor Barret could consult with the South Park guys, add underpants & voila! The taxpayers make a profit.

Scott M said...

A tax break is NOT a subsidy. The economic ignorance of the typical liberal (or do you prefer "progressive now?) voter is frightening.

This is in the same chapter of their economic textbook that says reducing the rate of growth in a department's budget, say from 3% to 1%, is a budget cut.

Hoosier Daddy said...

You are looking to power up Chicago or NYC this way that that can't happen. But if a million homes when 75% solar and wind it would make a difference.

You have a good point but look at it from the point of view of the homeowner. Solar panels that will provide the energy needs of most homes will run $20K and up. Now that's a chunk-o-change that some who is building or looking to install on an existing home has to consider. Sure you can show on paper the cost savings over say, 20 years but the average homeowner moves about every 7-10 years which means they won't ever see a nickel in savings. Mandating solar panels in homes would be an awesome way of putting homeownership out of reach for a significant chunk of the country.

Joe said...

HDHouse, so you are PERSISTENT in your foolishness, then?

A million houses can't be 75% solar or wind, because solar and wind can't provide, consistently, that degree of power....

But prove me wrong, put some panels on your roof, use a wind turbine, run your house and OpusOne Media, even 75% of the time, on solar and wind...We'll await your carrier pigeon missives on the outcome.

HDHouse said...

@HoosierDaddy

All good points and to add to it the cost of electricity varies so much from here to there. If there were tax incentives for the homeowner to install that would help and that could be done. On long island with plenty of wind and flatland sun the payback on the average utility bill on a $20k investment for the average home is about 8 years at 75% useage which is what our Power Company states. They encourage the legislation actually because they can't generate any more power and have to buy the peak demands.

Joe said...

On long island with plenty of wind and flatland sun the payback on the average utility bill on a $20k investment for the average home is about 8 years at 75% useage which is what our Power Company states.

A lawyer lie, it may be true, but its conclusion is false…the ASSUMPTION is that you will get 75% usage …if you don’t then the payback period escalates. Assuming it’s linear the payback might range from 8 years 24 years. Assuming you use about 1100 kilowatt hours of electricity your wind AND solar, you can’t have just one, then you must generate 825 kilowatt hours of usable power. Tell me HD, has the power company actually said that this is possible? And I can hardly wait until Long Island is covered in solar panels and squeaking wind turbines…Do you live in Long Island or are you just letting the “Little People” experiment?


They encourage the legislation actually because they can't generate any more power and have to buy the peak demands.

They are encouraging tax payer SUBSIDY of solar and wind…because that’s what Tax Incentives mean…you get a break on your taxes, that is, you pay less than you normally would…so the state is providing a subsidy for you to use solar and wind, to make up any difference in kilowatt costs.

TMink said...

The rich are jumping ALL over the solar subsidies. My cousin is working on a guy's hunting "camp." He has lots of solar stuff because you and I paid him to put it there through incentives and tax breaks. It will save basically no energy in the next 20 years due to how innefecient it is, but the rick dude laughs because Obama had us pay for it.

Trey

TMink said...

Rich dude, not Rick dude. More coffee.

bagoh20 said...

"If there were tax incentives for the homeowner to install that would help and that could be done."

So now you're in favor of cutting taxes. Or some peoples' and undoubtedly, raising others. Those others would be the rich and businesses that hire people, who then would not, which would make more poor, needing more subsidy, and round it goes. Isn't that how we got here?

I got a better idea: cut taxes for those who hire people. Those hired people will then be paying taxes instead of spending them, and will replace, with a surplus, the taxes not collected on the "rich" businesses. Rsevenue increases and job increase and everyone can afford solar panels that are now produced cheaper by the companies that we gave the tax breaks to, and round it goes. I know, it's so complicated.

former law student said...

Europe built [HSR] to connect the continent.

Actually European countries built HSR to connect their biggest cities that had the most traffic.

If Milwaukee to Madison is

1. Not high speed rail, and
2. Not a high traffic route,

then,

stop it right now. America doesn't need a pointless demo project. Wisconsin has never been a rail technology center.

But if you're living in Wisconsin and using electricity, you're reliant on Southern Illinois coal.

jr565 said...

Joe wrote:
EXCLUSIVELY, in NYC…post us, when you can, about the results, would you? Also, run OpusOne Media EXCLUSIVELY on solar and wind; get back to us, before the Chapter11/13 proceedings about how that worked out, would you?


Im crakcing up just thinking about the number of solar cells and/or windmills required to run one server room of an average corporation.
Imagine if we needed solar power to run an entire city the size of Manhattan.

former law student said...

dbq: did you hear of Chase Loan for Hire? They'll cut the interest rate on small business loans by half a percent for every new employee the business hires, up to three.

https://www.chase.com/ccp/index.jsp?pg_name=ccpmapp/smallbusiness/business_banking/page/loanhire&MSC=IQ15788156

DADvocate said...

They've been talking up a similar system in Ohio between Cincinncati, Columbus and Cleveland. It's a "high speed" rail that has a top speed around 70 MPH, will share rails with freight trains and take much longer than the same trip in a car. Plus, if you drive a car on the same trip, you have a mode of transportation once you get there. It's also predicted to need taxpayer support for as long as it exists if built.

former law student said...

It's a "high speed" rail that has a top speed around 70 MPH

That used to be called "rail."

Taking trains through the Midwest as a boy, I would count the number of telegraph poles we passed in one minute. Knowing that they are (normally) spaced one hundred feet apart, I could calculate our top speed as some 80 mph.

Bruce Hayden said...

San Jose tried to institute a system. When you got to your stop, in a less than savory area, you had to walk for blocks in the heat, generally in heels and business attire, to stand and wait for the next bus. People just don't use the system and it was a huge waste of money.

Is this how Norman Mineta became Secretary of Transportation under President Bush (43)?

Craig said...

no one is calling it a boondoggle

Probably because we all use it.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

dbq: did you hear of Chase Loan for Hire? They'll cut the interest rate on small business loans by half a percent for every new employee the business hires, up to three.


No, I hadn't heard of this program.

I would think that it would have to be a very very large loan amount and the company should have quite a few existing employees before any such thing would actually pencil out.

Given that the cost of an employee isn't just the wage you are paying but also UI, Payroll taxes state and federal, Health Insurance, Workers Comp, 401K match or other retirement contributions. It can really add up and erase any discount on the loan.

Adding three employees to a payroll of 100 is more cost effective in some ways than adding 3 employees to a payroll of 20.

I don't see a large amount of 'small businesses' finding this a very good trade off.

On the other hand. You could always hire the people, keep them on for a short while and then lay them off so you could have the 1.5% discount on the loan, and they can collect unemployment for several years. Maybe they could hire the shiftless brother in law and kill two birds with one stone...so to speak.

Joe said...

(The other Joe)

People need to be careful about talking up passenger rail in Europe and Japan since most the system lose money and lots of it.

The French TGV system is profitable on 80% of its lines, but the French rail system as a whole is losing money and word is that the high speed rails are in dire need of repair (which makes me question the continued assertion that TGV is really profitable.)

Joe said...

The Interstate Highway System has spent hundreds of billions of tax dollars, yet has created almost no permanent jobs -- and no one is calling it a boondoggle.

a) We all use it
b) We all pay for and more (through gas taxes.)

I do think it's a fair criticism to point out the degree of subsidy to the air transport system. I think it's worthwhile in general, but get annoyed at small airports getting subsidies way beyond anything remotely sustainable (and that includes the closest airport to me when a major airport is a 30 minute drive away.)

The question, though, is whether the current air transport system is sustained by the various airport fees. I suspect that many large airports are self-sustaining, but that most small ones are not.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I suspect that many large airports are self-sustaining, but that most small ones are not

Many large airports are able to float tax free muni revenue bonds at attractive rates. Many are insured, callable but not AMT eligible. I sell a lot of these to my clients.

Small airports don't have the ability to raise cash in this manner due to their size and finances. Therefore, they do get subsidies and they are almost never profitable.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

We are going to run out of oil someday and the last time I looked the sun was shinning and the wind was blowing and they are both free to use and use endlessly.

The day some asshole figures out how to block your access to those things he will build an industry around them that will dwarf the fossil fuels extraction industries. Make no mistake about it.

And he will make a killing off it and these dipshits will praise him as a capitalist captain of industry, a regular Rockefeller, the next Bill Gates.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Look at it from the Euro perspective, They are far more dependent on foreign oil than we are yet progressive nations such as France have eschewed free Sun and Wind in favor of nuclear power. If the tech existed, it would have already been advanced by those nations most dependent on fossil fuels.

For some reason, you're refusing to look at Spain, Portugal, Denmark... Why is France the only example that springs to mind? I think even Germany's going to be doing much more than the states in this regard.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

roesch-voltaire ftw 9:19 AM.

Robert R. said...

I'd suggest looking at the High Speed rail plans on the WDOT website. Lots of good information there.

One of the things that completely mystifies me is why "jobs created" is the criteria that gets singled out as the be all and end all of a project. The primary goal of a transportation project has always been to make the movement of people and goods more efficient. Arguably, the less permanent jobs you create per passenger/load, the more efficient the form of transportation. We could put traffic signals at every intersection, that would create permanent jobs in generating electricity, etc., but that wouldn't be efficient.

The Milwaukee/Madison leg of the trip isn't really all that useful. But, Madison to Chicago, via Milwaukee, and vice versa, probably makes a lot of economic sense when you consider gas, wear and tear on the vehicle, tolls, and parking. So does Chicago to General Mitchell Airport and Madison to General Mitchell Airport. As does Brookfield, Oconomowoc, and Watertown to Chicago and GMA and vice versa in some cases.

There are reasons to be wary of the project, like cost. But, it's also interesting to see how it's being sold and opposed. For instance, I bet many would think that a Madison to Chicago rail connection makes some sense. And this is the cheapest way to accomplish that.