The Rail Runner: The boondoggle that will keep on taking

It was known by those “in the know” at the time of purchase, but with a front page report in Sunday’s Albuquerque Journal, it became public knowledge that New Mexico taxpayers are on the hook for a lot more than they bargained for with the Rail Runner. With track being purchased that may never be used and annual maintenance costs in the millions of dollars annually, we are being RailRoaded. Read more on this sordid story from Rob Nikolewski at Capitol Report New Mexico.

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9 Replies to “The Rail Runner: The boondoggle that will keep on taking”

  1. Somebody needs to do a FOIA on the contract and related documents and correspondence between the State and BNSF… it is probably the only way to get around the obfuscation, delays, denials and other nonsense…

  2. Pay to Play! Richardson paid back BNSF for donations to his campaign piggy bank. Richardson paid back Bombardier ( US and Canada for donations to campaign piggy bank. BNSF could not abandon the line because Amtrak has to have the line to run on,But found a sucker to buy it, and let the taxpayers. foot the bill. Seriously doubt the paying riders generate enough income to pay for the fuel consumed by engines !

  3. It’s a bit unfair to imply that the purchase of trackage north of Lamy was not public knowledge at the time of the agreement with BNSF. I know that I knew it at the time, and I have no inside sources of information.

    That said, it was still a smart deal by BNSF and a really stupid, probably even corrupt, move by the fat crook in the Governor’s chair! We’d just as well rename the whole state after him, because his negative impact is tremendous and will continue for decades!

  4. The Democratic party has controlled NM legislature every year since 1929. Until there is a real two party system in the state, you can either live with the corruption or move to Texas.
    Prior to the RailRunner being put into operation, I made a seat of the pants cash flow analysis which after using most optimistic income projections, I predicted a cash shortage or $40 milllion a year which included bond amortization. I sent this information to the Albuquerque Journal but it was never published.

  5. As to the capital cost of the Rail Runner, it is $ 983 Million, and probably going higher. Some of the money came from other than NM taxpayers, such as the Federal Government.

    Did you know that if fares were FREE, then the cost of not having people to collect fares would reduce the total cost of the Rail Runner?

    I am sure that there are other cost savings possible, like putting contracts out for bids, as opposed to just giving them to friends on no bid contracts.

  6. A “must-read” is “Subsidy Trains to Nowhere”, Wall Street Journal Weekend edition, December 11. ANYONE who believes we can subsidize this high-speed mess at the level required needs rewiring. Unless one lives in an extremely high-density area with historical demand for such mode, it must be heavily subsidized, and the initial investment never will be recovered (Sorry, Northeast Corridor, DC/Boston, likely not sufficiently dense to make the cut toward success).
    And what the heck do you do when you get to the hub? A simple trip from my previous home in adobe bungalow historic district in Las Cruces to the rail station (12 minute walk); depot to previous office in El Paso (17 minute walk); plus train trip (43 miles at 40 mph, maybe), we’re at 90 minutes for the trip, with no opportunity to combine trip activities. And inclement weather (Heat! etc.); terrain (Hilly in El Paso); and numerous street crossings waiting for signals. Drive time?45 minutes, and I then could use my vehicle for project field inspections, meetings at far-flung government offices; early and late appointments before and after public transport ever is available. If I use 90 minutes for return trip, I can pick up groceries, building materials, dry cleaning, kids at day care, etc., none of which a train permits.
    Of necessity, I’ve lived two years in elevator-served buildings; I would rather live in a doublewide on 10 acres of desert than like a rabbit in a warren. Live downtown and meet your friends every day for a glass of wine at a bar? At $8 for 8 ounces, maybe? Are you completely crazy?

  7. The other thing that really burns me up is the fact that
    from what I’ve read more than 75% of the regular daily
    ridership off this train is government (city/state) employees! It’s bad enough to subsidize this at all ,
    but it is looking more and more like another gov employee perk that the real working tax payers simply cannot afford!

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