The hits keep coming for the Rail Runner

First, Larry Abraham blew the proverbial whistle on the debacle that is the Rail Runner. His was the first real public accounting for the train’s shaky finances. Today, the Journal ran another article noting that the State will need to pony up another $16 million for track and system maintenance.

The legislator who we can thank for bringing this additional information to the public is GOP freshman legislator Alonzo Baldonado. The Legislative Finance Committee is due to report on the Rail Runner and its finances this November and I’m sure that report will contain further bad news and bombshells. Specifically, as Mark Mathis wrote in his excellent — albeit unposted on the web — article this morning, the $16 million is just the beginning of the train’s maintenance costs. Taxpayers will have another massive bill foisted upon them in a few decades (again) to keep the crazy train moving down the tracks.

Thanks to Mathis for helping to lead the (at this point small) chorus calling to stop the RailRunner in its tracks and before it bankrupts us.

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10 Replies to “The hits keep coming for the Rail Runner”

  1. Why can’t this waste of money be closed? Can’t the governor simply issue an executive order ending this disgrace?

    Or, if she can’t close it, can she order the surrender of the excessive number of state vehicles driven from Albuquerque to Santa Fe every morning and back every night and tell those state drones to take the rail runner at their own expense instead of misusing my tax money to drive to work. No one paid ME to drive to work.

    Now that would get the ridership up and reduce the excessive size of the state vehicle fleet.

    Come on governor, git ‘er done.

  2. Rail Runner is not a drain on public finances, just as the street in front of your house doesn’t make money though it’s important.

    You just have bias against railroads.

  3. The Rail Runner probably was a mistake, but if it closed down wouldn’t the taxpayers still have to pay off the bonds?

    As long as we’re stuck with it, let’s figure out how to cut the losses. How many vehicles could the state eliminate if state employees used the train for on-the-job travel between Albuquerque and Santa Fe? Can it be better promoted to tourists, perhaps with additional runs during Balloon Fiesta?

    1. Bonds would need to be paid off, but we could avoid $20 million in annual operating expenses, plus millions in short-term maintenance costs. You can’t come close to breaking even with the Rail Runner.

  4. Straining at a gnat, but swallowing a camel whole !

    A good analogy for this article.

    “User pays” used to be good, conservative principle, but no more.

    This year, nationwide, fuel taxes and license fees will pay less than half the cost of road maintenance, and maintenance will not keep up with deterioration.

    The rest of society pays a SOCIALIST SUBSIDY to those that use roads the most. $30 to $40 billion/year !

    And, unlike railroads, paved roads PAY NO PROPERTY TAXES.

    Texas has the right idea – 25% of gas taxes help pay for schools.

    How about paved roads paying their way ? And, in lieu of paying property taxes on the roads, dedicate 25% of gas taxes to schools ?

    As a minor aside, higher pump taxes (once motorists start paying for ALL road maintenance, city streets to Interstate highways, with 75% of the gas taxes, the other 25%- > schools) will lead more people to take the train.

    Best Hopes for LESS Socialist Subsidies,

    Alan Drake

    1. First and foremost, I’d like to see the roads sold off and privatized or at least get the federal government out of managing them. But, even if they are socialized to an extent, at least all of us benefit from roads. Only a tiny fraction of New Mexicans benefit from the Rail Runner. The Rail Runner does not ship any goods (as roads are used to) and emergency vehicles don’t work well on rails either.

      1. How much would the government have to pay the private road companies for the pleasure of driving emergency vehicles on them? How much would freight companies have to pay them? How much would *you* have to pay them? I guarantee it would be more than you pay in taxes to support them now.

        Privatized roads sound like a recipe for a noncompetitive monopoly in the extreme.

  5. The Rail Runner is the most efficient significant public transport in Albuquerque. In 2009, it moved 44 million passenger-miles at a cost of only 43 cents for each one. The Albuquerque bus system moved only 36 mllion passen-ger-miles at a cost of 94 cents for each one. The Rail Runner is obviously far more useful and cost effective. It can not make a profit so long as roads are free but roads also cost big money. Then there is oil and gasoline that costs us a lot of money that goes overseas and never comes back. Rail Runner uses oil too, but much less per passenger-mile travelled. It is also much safer, The track cost to Las Vegas and Raton Pass is not a Rail Runner cost.
    Ed Tennyson
    Registered Professional Engineer

    1. I’d like to see your data. Where does the Rail Runner publish the number of passenger miles traveled? I’d very much like to see this data.

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