July 11, 2011

"What is the true cost of the premier transportation project of the administration of Gov. Bill Richardson? "

Take a lesson, train fans, from the disaster in New Mexico. (Link requires some clicking through subscription pages, but you can get in free with the right button choices.)
Just as weekend Rail Runner service to Santa Fe is set to end due to financial woes, it turns out the state needs to shell out an additional $16 million for track and system maintenance.

That’s on top of the projected $25 million in yearly maintenance and operational costs – before the weekend service cuts – that have already created a budget crunch for the Belen-to-Santa Fe operation.

The train has about 4,500 weekday boardings going one way and is expected to generate about $3.2 million in fares....

Richardson pushed for a “bullet train” early in his administration and set a deadline of December 2008 for the completion of the entire 99-mile project from Belen to Santa Fe.

However, neither the equipment nor track is designed for high-speed interstate rail travel.
Oh, the Democratic governors and their choo-choo trains! Here's a cool Wisconsin ad from a year ago:



"I will put a stop to this boondoggle the day I take office"... that's how Scott Walker got my vote.

44 comments:

NYTNewYorker said...

Garage Mahal will set us all straight on this as soon as he gets all of his papers together.

AllenS said...

NYTNew Yorker, beat me to it. Wasn't building these trains supposed to be a financial win-win?

Patrick said...

AllenS, I'll let you know if it's win win if it turns out there are any businesses left on University Ave in St. Paul wehen they've finished screwing it up for the train.

NYTNewYorker said...

Yes it was AllenS, high speed rail is the key to the universe, you just have to believe....and spend and then spend some more and then....

LOOK! SQUIRREL!

Hagar said...

Besides that, Richardson also took about half a billion of highway funds to construct this project, so that not only are we stuck with the "RailRunner," but we are also short half a billion dollars worth of badly needed highways.

Curious George said...

Best part of the Walker commercial is :48. Perfect!

AllenS said...

Patrick, I've been following that nonsense since it's start. I wonder if AxMan will survive.

Kylos said...

Unless I'm misunderstanding the numbers, it sounds like the fare is $2 per rider one way. At current gas prices, I would spend at least $10 on gas. I'd pay $10 to gain an hour and a half of time where I could do something other than driving. $15M still doesn't cover maintenance but it would be a lot better.

Mel said...

Now that idiot Barrett wants to use county transit funds to operate electric street cars in the heart of downtown. Talk about a boondoggle.
(this after the announcement that the transit system would have to raise fares and cut routes!)

Ann Althouse said...

The fares can be seen here. A day pass runs from $1 to $9, depending on the zone.

Remember you have to get to the station. Presumably, you'll drive and park, which will add some cost. And once you get where you are going, you'll need to get from the station to that place. How do you do that? Cab? Another train? A bus?

You have to compare the total cost.

Also, if you have errands to do along the way: shopping, dropping kids off or picking them up, then the train can't substitute for driving.

chickenlittle said...

Garage Mahalo wishes that Walker's ad said:
Ja wir k├Ânnen

Maguro said...

The thing that is fucking stupid about almost all these rail projects is that most people don't need to travel city center to city center. So great, you take the choo-choo to downtown Santa Fe, but then you need a car to get to your destination. What have you accomplished by taking the train?

Curious George said...

"Mel said...
Now that idiot Barrett wants to use county transit funds to operate electric street cars in the heart of downtown. Talk about a boondoggle.
(this after the announcement that the transit system would have to raise fares and cut routes!"

Worse there is no plan in place to who will run it, what that will cost, and how it will be paid for. Barrett has hinted that he wants the county transit authority to run it...which means suburban taxpeyers will pay for it.

Idiocy.

NYTNewYorker said...

"What have you accomplished by taking the train?"

This is not about travel, it's a democrat jobs program. It really doesn't have to get you from here to there efficiently.

It just has to employ a multitude of workers who will vote for your political party to stay alive and working.

One word....Amtrack.

Patrick said...

If Axman doesn't survive, mu kids will be devastated. Best place ever for cheap toys. I really missed all of the old cars parading up and down university, going to Porky's..

Hagar said...

Not so much a jobs program as that the "cream" from a single large project can be collected much more efficiently than from 50 small ones.

And the purpose of the RailRunner is mostly to transport State government workers to their jobs in Santa Fe and back. Housing in Santa Fe is difficult to find and very expensive, so they live in Albuquerque (where their spouses also can find work) and commute. There are parking lots next to the tracks from Belen to Bernalillo. In Santa Fe, the State probably operates busses and vans to take them to their offices.

It has been some years since I saw a statistic, but back then New Mexico ranked 2nd in the nation for the ratio of State workers per capita.

roesch-voltaire said...

I rode the light rail in Seattle this last week from down town to the airport for $2.75-- saved time and money. The train was clean and each station seemed well kept up. Yes it was expensive to build, and still does not have enough riders as it does not serve a wide enough area, but I discovered more folks now just take the cab to the line rather than pay for the airport trip. A number of folks I spoke with were optimistic about its future use.

galdosiana said...

I'm so sick of this train crap. Every time I mention going to Milwaukee to someone here in Madison, inevitably they say in a seriously upset tone--EVERY TIME--"Oh, well, too bad we don't have that high speed train!!"

Good lord, it wouldn't save any time, and it certainly wouldn't save any money considering you'd have to figure out a way to get to the train station, and then--once at your destination--to get to where you're going. But, all the Madison folk like to say that "It would be nice to have that option every once in a while."

Guess what? "Every once in a while" doesn't cover the expenses of a high maintenance train.

Calypso Facto said...

roesch-- you forgot to mention that in order to add ridership to the $2.75 train, Seattle eliminated the $1 express bus route from the airport. Now passengers get to pay 3x as much AND the city can lose money 3x as fast. What's not to love?

Roger J. said...

Seattle is only slightly less screwed up than Madison. To cover the costs of taxpayer support for their sports stadiums they hit the tourists with all kinds of taxes--I used to visit seattle from eastern washington on a regular basis--I stopped visting after the city mamas/poppas/and mos decided to screw the tourists.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Not sure what that word "interstate" is doing there. Unless the real plan is to burn even more money and extend the useless thing to El Paso, just like the real plan in Wisconsin was to burn even more money and extend the useless thing to Minneapolis.

chr1 said...

I live in Seattle and the ridership isn't there, but thank you for observing the optimism. It is projected to not be paid for until 2038, with costs increasing per household yearly.

It's 2 billion over budget now and growing (which some promised wouldn't happen). 92% of the revenue will come from households taxes and taxes on businesses deferred to customers. The people, comrade, the people.

Meanwhile, the worn, North Korea-like 1960's monorail runs 1 mile between the space needle and eastlake center. It operates at a profit, but mostly because of its tourist value and the fact that it's run by a private company.

I could be proven wrong, but I doubt it.

Phil 3:14 said...

Pure evil.

The Crack Emcee said...

That's how Scott Walker got my vote.

Ahh,..so you voted for one guy to start the boondoggles, and then you'll vote for other guys to end those boondoggles. Which means you're really voting to waste gobs of our money between making those two choices.

Very *rational*

Jesus, why didn't I finish college,...?

roesch-voltaire said...

Clypso this was my forth visit to Seattle and I never found the express bus useful and so in the past hired the shuttle services or had friends drive. I saved time and money and did not have to impose on anybody to drive through the LA congestion of Seattle. Simply put, I am not willing to write off all light rail, but do want better planning on which points to connect.

Phil 3:14 said...

t is projected to not be paid for until 2038, with costs increasing per household yearly.-It's 2 billion over budget now and growing

But its clean!

Kylos said...

Prof, I'm not defending the trains; I think they could charge a higher price to achieve higher profits. Yes it does increase overall travel time and it may not be effective for destinations more than a mile from the depot, but for departures, a bit longer drive to a parking lot is feasible. Obviously it won't work for everyone, but even if my total travel time is increased, I would likely gain some productive time.

As we can see from this report, those managing the trains have not done a good job estimating its value and costs. Reading the FAQ at the fare link showed a lot of defensiveness about all the issues they're having. It doesn't seem like this was well thought out.

edutcher said...

Mass transit goes, especially rail, along part and parcel with all things Green and has been an article of faith among the Demos since Carter.

Notice how well it's worked.

Maguro said...

I saved time and money and did not have to impose on anybody to drive through the LA congestion of Seattle.

It only saves you money because you're not paying the true cost of your ride. You're just imposing on the taxpayers of Washington state instead of imposing on your own friends.

Curious George said...

"The Crack Emcee said...
Very *rational*"

It's coolly...soberly...rational sir!

Curious George said...

Achieve higher profits? None of these trains make ANY profit. At best you might mitigate the massive losses somewhat.

These projects are never "well thought out"...well, actually they are. They start with a bunch of bullshit lies and estimates to get them started. Then they go into the "doesn't matter what they cost, because they are NEEDED".

You are a babe in the woods.

roesch-voltaire said...

Maguro I do not pay the true costs for gas/automobile travel either so what is the point?

Kirk Parker said...

Kylos,

You're talking about just the farebox right? What about ongoing operating subsidies? Surely this rail project, like virtually every other piece of mass transit today, has plenty of subsidies too?

And r-v, surely you understand that your trip on the light is highly, highly subsidized?

Chuck66 said...

Will, I am a right winger who supports mass transit. And there are some differences in population.

Greater Chicago....say 4,000,000
Milwaukee metro......1,000,000
Madison........250,000
Throw in Watertown, Oconomowoc, Brookfield.

While Bill R's railroad only serves
Albequrque metro......800,000

Chuck66 said...

One of the stories out there is that Bill Richardson bypassed the usual Fed'l gov't approval process and therefore cash, to rush and get this built. He did it because he had planned to run for President and wanted this project to show what he can do.

Turns our the Fed'l gov't would have denied funding anyway (or so the story goes) as ridership adn farebox recovery were projected to be.....what they turned out to be.

Chuck66 said...

Seattle is more linear. Mass transit makes more sense in a heavily populated area where many many people live, work, shop, entertain, etc at locations along a north-south (or east west, or nw-SE) orientation.

Chuck66 said...

Seattle is more linear. Mass transit makes more sense in a heavily populated area where many many people live, work, shop, entertain, etc at locations along a north-south (or east west, or nw-SE) orientation.

Hagar said...

The word "interstate" does not belong; it is an error for "intrastate." There are no plans to extend the RailRunner in any direction to more than 100 miles from Santa Fe.

And the RailRunner exists to serve Santa Fe (4th largest city- pop. ~76,000), not Albuquerque.

traditionalguy said...

The trains are low speed 1800s technology.

The use of the phrase "Bullet Trains" is to excite the imaginations of the weak minded.

The ONLY reason the Federal Government makes "Grants to States " is for control.

This control is accepted by Dem thieves in States that them spend it on friend's land and professional services.

No wonder the politicians love railroads. The kickbacks to them are immediate and huge.

Sheepman said...

I have nothing against some subsidies for mass transport if it makes sense. The RailRunner makes no sense at all. It was a vanity project to transport state workers from Santa Fe to Albuquerque. I saw it first hand last May in Santa Fe, stuck in traffic while this big clunky diesel train crossed a busy road.

James said...

Prof, I'm not defending the trains; I think they could charge a higher price to achieve higher profits. Yes it does increase overall travel time and it may not be effective for destinations more than a mile from the depot, but for departures, a bit longer drive to a parking lot is feasible. Obviously it won't work for everyone, but even if my total travel time is increased, I would likely gain some productive time.

As we can see from this report, those managing the trains have not done a good job estimating its value and costs. Reading the FAQ at the fare link showed a lot of defensiveness about all the issues they're having. It doesn't seem like this was well thought out.



Can you name one public transit system in the U.S. that operates at a profit?

Peter said...

For some reason the cost of using an automobile does not go down if one is >= 62, or if one has a student ID, or a disability notification from the DMV.

Obviously there should be a government program to fix this!

Aside from that, the problem with trains- high-speed and otherwise- is that they seldom go from where you are to where you want to go.

And so, a train trip is almost always at least a 3-seat journey: a trip to the train station, the train trip itself, and another trip from the train station to your destination.

IMHO this is the central problem of all public transportation but particularly of trans, because of the high capital cost.

As they say, train tracks are narrow but Texas is wide.

Sigivald said...

A railroad from Belen to Santa Fe?

What imbecile ever thought that would make sense?

There's already a perfectly good Interstate (I-25) there.

Want public transit? Buy some god-damn busses.

(That half a billion in highway funds Hagar mentioned would probably buy a lot of nice maintenance and upgrades on I-25...)

chr1 said...

I'm especially worried about the people making minimum wage to $16 an hour or so...they will get taxed onto the trains...or off the roads...Seattle already tries to tax them onto the buses all the time already and the buses operate at a loss

Instead of solving the problems Seattle has...too many drivers, not enough roads, high population growth...

...another hare-brained costly green scheme emerges. It can never, never be about just getting people from one place to another, but always about the common good, social programs, environmentalism and the "general will" and all the folks with their dirty hands in the general money pot.

Over-budget, lacking in basic economic sense...

...that's when you know you're in a nest of Lefties.