Happy talk on the Rail Runner

I was on vacation and out of town over the Thanksgiving, so I was unable to get to some of the op-eds and other information on this blog. The most interesting and worthy of response was this piece on the Rail Runner. Simply put, the author makes several completely unsubstantiated claims regarding the Rail Runner. I’ll respond to each point in bold:

First, and most importantly, there are efficiency benefits that result when the Rail Runner reduces costs due to traffic congestion, road construction and maintenance, parking facilities, accidents and pollution. Simply not true. Portland, Oregon, the most transit-intensive city in the nation is also one of the most congested. In fact, most transit advocates want to INCREASE congestion

Second, there are the benefits to the people who were already using commuter buses in the Belen/Santa Fe corridor before Rail Runner and who now enjoy more comfortable and more frequent service. Is taking a bus to the Rail Runner and then taking another bus once you get off the Rail Runner really better than a shuttle bus? Also, which is quicker? The author makes an assertion but has no facts.

Third, there are the benefits to people who are physically, economically or socially disadvantaged who couldn’t travel before the Rail Runner, but now can. He just mentioned buses. Has anyone asked the handicapped? I’ve seen no polling on this, so again, an assertion with no backup.

The simple fact is that the Rail Runner is heavily-subsidized with little benefit in terms of the environment or congestion. It is time to shut it down.

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5 Replies to “Happy talk on the Rail Runner”

  1. I think one of the most amazing things about this boondoggle is that it certainly appears that most people actually get in a car and drive to a parking lot in order to get on the train… Have you noticed the big parking lot just south of Santa Fe in the rough middle of nowhere? Not exactly walking distance to anything.

    RR is heavy diesel… nothing green about it. And, now we have another 200 miles of track that is in disrepair and the operators of RR say that RR is not equipped for long haul passengers… more boondoggle? Without question.

  2. I have seen the work on the rail project. I have also been to Portland, OR. when the rain and snow and fog make transport on rodeways dangerous. Every pasanger rail system has its detractors. but once started they are a drain on the tax revinues. they can’t charge enough for self sufficiency or get enough passangers in the beginning, but as generations pass they become irreplacable.

  3. The City of Austin, TX is now double decking their highways. This is truly a disaster and indicative of what could happen in other cities. If the country of Brasilia could move their capital from Rio de Janerio to Brasilia, could NM not move its capitol from Santa Fe to Albuquerque and eliminate the need for the RailRunner?

    And while we are in this process could we not simplify government by adopting a Unicameral Legislature as Nebraska and New Zealand have done? And do we really need to elect a Governor? Could not the Unicameral Legislature appoint a Governor? Perhaps we could have a statewide elected Chief Financial Office who could produce a unified budget and impartial reporting system.

    By reducing the structure and representatives in government, we reduce the costs and the bureaucracy and people would find government easier to understand and become more involved with the election process

  4. You keep quoting that Koch/Cato funded highway lobbyist Randal O’Toole, so Paul that make what you write as bad as what he writes.

  5. will leave points one and two alone at the moment. because I have the data for point 3 I work for one of the oldest and most experienced consulting firms concerning transit for people with disabilities. (and am a disabled veteran wheelchair user myself) in over 35 years doing this I have not yet met the first person in a wheelchair who all other things being equal preferred a bus over a rail vehicle. not one person. A rail vehicle is wider and easier to manuver inside of. In a bus a wheelchair must (by law) be secured if possible which is time consuming. a rail vehicle has no such need, and in fact the ride is such that most of the time I don’t even apply the brakes on my wheelchair.
    boarding time by bus is several times longer than on any rail vehicle, and in 9 times out of ten people can board a rail vehicle independently but need active assistance from the bus driver to use the bus.
    bus ramps are next to impossible to use if the bus cannot get to the curb, no such problem on a rail vehicle.
    buses are limited to only two wheelchair tie down spaces on each bus, while rail vehicles can carry at least two people per car. I have ridden the Oceanside Sprinter (San Diego) with a total of 5 people in wheelchairs on the same car. two headed for school. which three would have been late on a bus. Cannot remember a single trip on a san Diego trolley in which I was the only wheelchair user on board, same on the MARC trains outside of DC. and DC metro gave up counting the wheelchair users on their system because the counts were so high. but they rarely get more than a few hundred a week on their bus system which is far larger.

    by far the majority of people with disabilities that I have spoken to or interviewed over the past 35 years would never chose a bus if a rail car were avaliable. so this claim is accurate, I know many people who live on a bus line but drive to a rail station to take the train rather than hassle with the bus.

    I can say safely that there is no data that shows people with disabilities prefer buses, but much that shows a preference for rail vehicles. And I have proven this in court as a certified expert. (DIA v SEPTA et al) and numerous other cases

    these opinions are mine alone and not in any way represent the opinions of my employer or any agency.

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