Why the ABQ Chamber is wrong on the Rail Runner

This article which included Albuquerque Chamber President Terri Cole had me scratching my head. Not that we haven’t had our differences with Cole and the Chamber, but their ongoing defense of the Rail Runner is getting ridiculous.

Simply put, the Rail Runner is an unaffordable luxury and it always was. Remember I-25 before the Rail Runner? If anyone can clearly show that traffic has improved on that road, I’d like to see their data. Also, if businesses in Santa Fe do such great business from the train, why don’t they put their money where their mouths are?

Ultimately, the issue boils down to whether, as they say in the article, “a comprehensive multimodal transportation system which efficiently moves people and product because it is an economic development necessity and is essential to creating a vibrant and competitive city and state.” How so? We have a socialized transportation system, what signals are we using to determine the best mix of the various transportation modes? Is there really solid evidence that cities which massively invest in heavy rail transit are in better economic shape than those that don’t?

The train did not markedly improve transportation issues — such as traffic congestion — in the I-25 corridor and is clearly unaffordable without tax hikes of some sort. Of course, we agree with the Chamber that tax hikes are a bad idea, but doesn’t this mean that we have to cut spending somewhere?