RailRunner vs. Utah Rail: Does Lawrence Rael’s Comparison Matter?

Lawrence Rael, Executive Director of the Mid Region Council of Governments, argued today in the Albuquerque Journal that New Mexico’s Rail Runner is a great deal compared to the Utah Transit Authority’s Commuter Rail project because we are getting more train for less money.
Rael looks at the cost increases that have happened in Utah and argues that the Rail Runner’s costs are “on-target,” despite the fact that Phase II which requires the laying of new track is only in its early stages. The fact that New Mexico could see the very same cost increases seems like an impossibility to Rael.
Of course, regardless of whether or not the Rail Runner is ultimately a better deal than Utah’s commuter train, that does not mean that we are getting a good deal. In fact, roads like Paseo del Norte are a far more efficient use of limited transportation money than projects like the Rail Runner or commuter rail in Utah.