Rail Runner Ridiculousness

I just love how advocates for massively-subsidized transit will obfuscate reality and throw up smokescreens in order to defend their favorite boondoggles. A case in point is the article in today’s Albuquerque Journal by Ike Benton and Chris Blewett. The article is downright silly in so many of its statements in response to Mark Mathis’s recent, excellent column on stopping the Rail Runner that it almost doesn’t deserve a response, but the issue is sufficiently controversial, that I’ll respond below. In the meantime, if you want to find out more about the ways in which transit advocates attempt to sell these projects, regardless of their impact on taxpayers, attend our meeting with transportation expert Randal O’Toole on Thursday, May 6.

First and foremost, regardless of the exact costs of construction, both sides agree that the Rail Runner cost in excess of $400 million to build. 100% of this money comes out of taxpayers’ pockets. This is a huge expense that Benton and Blewett do not honestly account for. After all, a highway lane would be paid for by gas taxes (a user-fee paid by motorists);

Then, Benton and Blewett make the argument that the “real” congestion problem is not BETWEEN Albuquerque and Santa Fe, but WITHIN the two cities. Fair enough. So, why would we build a commuter rail train (the RailRunner) between the two cities? After all, the Rail Runner only has only three stops within each city. The train runs for more than 100 miles between Belen and Bernalillo. Why didn’t we spend the money — far less would be necessary — on bus rapid transit or something that will actually target our “real” congestion issues?

Then, there is the issue of other cities and their rail boondoggles. Benton and Blewett imply that it is inevitable that cities embark on these projects at some point in the future. The fact is that the rail projects in these other cities are every bit as wasteful and unnecessary as the Rail Runner. Unfortunately, there is a transit lobbying interest that holds a great deal of sway in pushing these projects forward. If you want to find out more about this transit lobby (and arm yourself with ways to stop it), I cannot stress how important Randal O’Toole’s presentation is.

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9 Replies to “Rail Runner Ridiculousness”

  1. How much funding does the Rio Grande Foundation get from the CATO Institute? Are there strings attached, like having serial obfuscater and wingnut welfare recipient Randal O’Toole appear to speak in favor of urban sprawl, as he usually does?

  2. Richard makes a good point, for that matter both Cato & O’Toole have taken money from Koch Oil. Their agenda is pushing highways. Also gas taxes are not highway user fees they are taxes on gas, highway user fees do exist on some roads and they are called tolls. Roads in most part are paid for by property taxes and exist on a not for profit basis, in other words “socialism”.

  3. Richard: attacking RGF while avoiding their ideas is classic obfuscation.

    Andrew: the National Highway Trust Fund is supposed to be set aside to build and maintain roads and bridges, and is generated from federal fuel taxes. Unfortunately the congress started stealing from this fund for ‘mass transit projects'(30%+ last I knew) and now the fund is broke. The politicians found another pork source and have spent it. Mass transit projects do not provide benefits to all like roads do.
    Roads are available 24/7 and may be used by everyone, to all our benefit (how do you get to work?). Your ‘argument’ that roads are paid by taxes and are ‘not for profit’ is silly, and does not fit any definition of ‘socialism.’

  4. Just looked over my property tax statement. No reference to roadways… Just a lot of school bonds. I’ll keep using my truck and paying those gas taxes, fed and state, to maintain our roadways.

  5. Steve, Martin, the road in front of your home is there regardless of economic conditions & the existence automobiles. Also mass transit can be used every one too!

  6. Sure Andrew – anyone can use ‘mass transit.’ I want to get from Clovis to Gallup using the Failrunner. Not much help.
    The state IS spending the tax dollars of all NM state residents – even those NOT served by the train. How do they benefit? Answer: they don’t.
    This is a serious waste of taxpayer monies AND a massive slush fund for the pork politicos. The claims of benefit (for the public) of the Failrunner all prove false after scrutiny.

  7. Not every one has a car or can drive. I’m not against the street in front of my house or your house, though what you want Steve is double standard!

  8. Too bad Andrew and Richard do not address salient criticisms of their comments. Their only answers: “oil company shills”, “conservative hacks”, “double standard”.

  9. O’Toole is a Big Oil shill that pushes for double standards with transport policy, that’s the truth!

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