Trains For America

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Detroit News calls rail plans “boondoggle”

TFA proudly calls your attention to the Detroit News. Today’s editorial proves that all the bone-headed clock stoppers do not sip mint julips and call the Hogs (an Arkansas football expression). Yep, they’ve got some very intelligent Yankees up there in Michigan. They do a great job runnin’ them there car companies.

You are going to love it so surf over on this link and check out the brilliant commentary.

No matter where the high-speed rail is eventually located, the concern is that taxpayers will never see the end of their transit investment. Mass transit systems never pay for themselves.

Tim Hoeffner, an administrator with the Michigan Department of Transportation, argues that the economic development resulting from the rail line will far outweigh the costs to taxpayers. Transit experts project a $4 to $8 return in the value of development for each dollar invested in transit.

The idea of such a return and the short-term jobs generated by such a rail system are tempting.

But Michigan ought to be wary of such claims. Amtrak, the national passenger rail service, has operated on subsidies since its inception. It was ordered by a congressional study group in 1997 to create a plan for weaning itself from the federal treasury by 2002. Its current chief executive told Congress in January that a decline in projected ridership argued for continuing subsidies,

Obviously written by a former auto exec. Very firm grip on reality there.

How many billion has GM already blown through? And which highways do not require regular resurfacing, new signs, and new lights?

I leave the further commentary to our readers and we are all hoping for a quick recover in Michigan.

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail

7 Responses

  1. qqq says:

    Well, keep in mind that Detroit was the “beneficiary” of one of the worst boondoggles in American public transportation history: The People Mover. Arguably, one of the worst public trans systems in the world.

    So even if you take away all the auto protectionist nonsense, people in Michigan have been hurt before by expensive public trans projects. They’re going to need a lot of time & reassurance before they’re ready to love again.

  2. patlynch says:

    Ah, yes. The People Mover.

    Your thoughts are well placed and I do recall the enormous political pressure to mess with the route of the system. It seems to have been well-conceived from the start but thwarted by provincialism.

    Of couse, that kind of thing could never happen in Arkansas.

    The proposals of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association will create thousands of new and permanent jobs.

    Still, it is hard to get past the scars of history.

  3. Allan says:

    All say it again … It’s better to make more rails “fast” than spend the same amount on fewer rail to make the HSR.

  4. Peter says:

    I love this idea that always gets pulled out in editorials like this. “Transit will never pay for itself, and will constantly require the government to pay for it.” They always say it like it’s supposed to surprise us. And the sad fact is, it often does surprise the average person. The people that write these sorts of things, and the people that read them, just assume that roads pay for themselves via the gas tax, and anyone saying anything different is just trying to cheat tax payers out of their hard earned money.

  5. Cal says:

    What Gall.. after the TAXPAYER just bailed out GM for how much more than this HSR funding..?

  6. max says:

    Even though the people mover was a not a hit success I don’t think that it is fair to compare the people mover to what HSR’s have potential to do. The people mover is just a small inner city transit system. HSR’s can bring in people from all over the state.

  7. jon says:

    this is stupid enough it has to be written by either randall o’toole or an detroit auto executive. how one can make this claim now (of all times) from detroit (of all places) is mindboggling.

    detroit is the last place in the US that should be getting on their high horse about subsidies and the free market with their govt propped up failed shortsighted auto companies selling sh*tty lemons that no one wants. detroit is synonymous with complete failure, anyone who has stood inside the detroit metro area or any of detroit’s crappy cars knows this.

    its worth noting that the detroit news’s days might even more numbered that gm or chrysler.

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