Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Light rail: unsustainable

Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin and LRT car (photo: Hennepin County)As reported in the Star Tribune ("Flush with riders, transit is short on money and options" by Jim Foti, January 4, 2009), the unsustainable source of funding for the misfit transportation boondoggle called light rail is proving, well, unsustainable.

The economic reality that whatever you tax, eventually gets less abundant is being exacerbated by the downturn in the economy. Forty percent or more of the motor vehicle sales tax was supposed to be the golden goose for metro area mass transit (read: light rail transit) — but then the economy turned south and Denny Hecker closed or sold nine dealerships in 2008. Meanwhile, in spite of increased ridership, the Met Council is being forced to choose between unpleasant options like increasing fares or cutting back service — or both.
The dark joke in transit circles is that if you don't want fares to go up again, you should buy a car and then keep riding the bus...

The motor vehicle sales tax has "virtually collapsed," said state Sen. Scott Dibble, a Minneapolis DFLer who is on the Senate Transportation Committee. Recurring funding shortfalls have him concerned about the system's viability, and he noted that raising fares by a total of 75 cents in less than a year would amount to a 50 percent increase in non-rush-hour fares.

Legislation that robs Peter to pay for Paul's light rail ride will always have the full support of Paul, but that doesn't make it good transportation policy. Yet light rail proponents won't let reality, common sense, Minnesota Public Radio or the University of Minnesota derail their utopian plans.

1 comment:

sos said...

Imagine all the additional tax revenue that will be required to subsidize a successful light rail system.

It's such a silly notion that mass transit supporters try to tell you it will take more cars off the road. If that were true, then their source of funding would be diminished as we are seeing right now.

it's strange to say, but you don't want too many people to ride light rail or mass transit as it gets too expensive for the taxpayer.

If only the taxpayer understood this delusional formula.