Counterpoint: High Speed Rail: Missing the Oncoming Semi to See the RoadPosted: April 6, 2010
Adam has recently discussed his beliefs on why the high speed rail opposition is misguided and shortsighted. What he fails to do, however, is see the costs of such ambitious long term goals. To begin, let’s analyze the cost. The current proposal costs roughly $180 million, although Rep. Brett Davis thinks that it will cost $17 million more than that.
Now I know what you’re thinking. But the Federal Government gave us that money for free! I never want to hear you say ‘money for free,’ since all money comes from someone. In this case, it’s federal tax payers, or worse, money printed by the federal reserve (but I won’t go there.) Now Mayor Tom Barrett has a response to this: if we don’t use the money, some other state will. But the federal government isn’t paying all of the costs, and the state will end up paying for the operations once the rail is built, a yearly estimated cost of $7.5 million.
Further, the costs don’t make the usage of the rail free, with an expected cost of about $60 round trip. No thanks, I’ll take the Badger Bus.
So all said and done, what does this project cost?
Initial Costs: $180 million
Operation Costs per Year: $7.5 million
Cost per Round Trip: $60
Footing a bill you can’t pay: Priceless
Also, I’m concerned that ridership won’t meet what the State expects. But Adam correctly points out that we shouldn’t consider whether we would ride it or not.
Regardless of if you believe Madison-Milwaukee has enough intertransit demand, the grand project (the forest, if you will) has a large amount of demand!
First of all, this seems unfounded. How do we know whether or not demand is high enough? Second, even if the bigger picture is more rewarding, that doesn’t negate the costs in the immediate. If you are going to justify such an ambitious program, you have to explain why it costs so much to start. In this case, that hardly seems warranted. Its looking right past the speeding, oncoming semi truck just to see the clear open road behind it.