Friday, September 25, 2009

Costs, facts ignored in Blade editorial on passenger rail

Today's Blade editorial, Keep Toledo On Track, continues the paper's editorial position in favor of passenger rail service across the state.

However, it ignores a very key point, reported in their own news pages: the cost!

"The study projected revenue of $12 million a year, with Ohio having to kick in an additional $17 million operating subsidy."(emphasis added)

Strangely, the editorial proudly mentions the yearly projected revenue (though it never questions the lack of accuracy found in most government revenue projections) but doesn't bother to include the critical data that comes from Amtrak: that Ohio taxpayers will have to pay nearly 60% of the yearly cost of the system!

I talked about this on WSPD this week when I was filling in for Brian Wilson on the Afternoon Drive, so if you listened, this may be a bit of repetition - but it's a point that needs to be made repeatedly.

How can anyone - elected officials, citizens, newspaper editorial boards - possibly support a project that would require the taxpayers to foot so much of the cost, especially during this economy and with many government entities facing huge deficits???? Even in a good economy, this is a bad idea since there are other existing needs in the state that could - and should - come before a new expense.

Where will the $17 million a year come from?

It can only come from us - the taxpayers of the state.

And that $17 million is just a guess. When was the last time you heard of a government program coming in at projected costs? Of course, the $17 million is only what they project at the start - as time goes on, that cost will increase ... continually.

There's another point in the editorial designed to skew your perspective: usage.

According to the paper, "478,000 people would patronize the new service in its first year." However, the study actually predicts 478,000 riders - which means that a single person making numerous trips does not count as 'one' - but rather counts as however many trips made or tickets purchased, the same way our TARTA system counts patronage. So the number of people who actually use the rail service would have to be no more than 239,000 because each person who got on a train to go somewhere would probably have to return home as well: one person, but two 'riders.'

We don't need another huge cost in the yearly state budget, especially when less than 2% of the state will be the beneficiaries.

It boggles the mind how anyone could support such a boondoggle when you weigh the exorbitant costs and the extremely small number of people served.

Ohioans need to say NO! to this expensive, unrealistic, and completely unnecessary project.

1 comment:

Tim Higgins said...

Maggie,

The support for this rail line has nothing to do with logic, usage, or profitability. This rail line is about putting more mass transit in Ohio because mass transit is "better" that automobiles. The agenda is clear and the support of the left is strong amongst those to whom logic and profit are dirty words.

Besides, California is building such a line between LA and San Francisco. Far be it from us to dispute the wisdom of those bastions of fiscal responsibility and sound money management.

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