Rail Transit is Expensive Everywhere

I attended Mayor Chavez’s budget meeting (schedule available at link) at Taylor Ranch Community Center on Saturday to voice support for the tax cut proposal and opposition to the Mayor’s streetcar plans that he refuses to let die. While taxes and police were discussed, by far the hottest topic was transportation.
Interestingly enough, transportation and more specifically rail transit is a big issue in our Nation’s Capitol as well. While visitors to Washington are often impressed by the City’s clean and relatively fast METRO, far fewer people understand the costs associated with this system and that Albuquerque by its nature could never have something similar.
First and foremost, Congress is considering spending $1.5 billion over the next 10 years to support the system. This will not happen in Albuquerque. Even with that massive infusion of cash, METRO will still require tax hikes in DC, Maryland, and Virginia in order to create a “dedicated funding source” to keep the system afloat.
More importantly, the Washington area is massive compared to Albuquerque and its traffic problems are much bigger. This makes transit more viable, but what really helps is the massive concentration of federal jobs around METRO stops as outlined by Congress. The Pentagon alone has more people working in it than all of downtown Albuquerque.
Before Albuquerque spends the money to try to create a rail transit network like Washington or Portland, citizens need to understand what they are getting themselves into.

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