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Dallas rail's quandary is now too many riders (Light Rail idiocy alert)
Houston Chronicle ^ | December 25, 2002 | Jim Henderson

Posted on 12/24/2002 11:42:12 PM PST by GOPcapitalist

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Media bias alert! This story suggests that DART rail is so popular that passengers are being turned away from crowded stations by the busload. But if you read carefully, that isn't the case at all!!! Note the bolded parts of the article in particular.

This bus from Sherman got turned away because they aren't a DART "member," meaning they don't cough up thousands in tax dollars annually to subsidize the stupid rail line. DART's idiotic government bureaucracy would rather deny busloads of potential paying passengers than let them ride and actually collect some fares on the stupid thing simply because they rode in on a bus that isn't part of the DART bureaucracy.

And to make the matter even more laughable along comes the Houston Chronicle, which has NEVER seen a rail car or transit agency it didn't like. Apparently to them the fact that some idiot bureaucrats at DART are sending potential customers home for failing to meet some bureaucratic regulation is "proof" that rail is so popular there isn't room on the trains to ride the thing.

1 posted on 12/24/2002 11:42:13 PM PST by GOPcapitalist
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To: Willie Green
And they aren't even unemployed..
2 posted on 12/24/2002 11:45:44 PM PST by Jhoffa_
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To: GOPcapitalist
The Trinity Express, the heavy rail line between Dallas and Fort Worth, has an agreement with nine cities along its route that requires them to pay $775,000 a year to help defray operating costs.

That has to be a pretty expensive per passanger mile subsidiy.

3 posted on 12/25/2002 12:03:16 AM PST by justrepublican
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To: justrepublican
The Trinity Express, the heavy rail line between Dallas and Fort Worth, has an agreement with nine cities along its route that requires them to pay $775,000 a year to help defray operating costs.

That has to be a pretty expensive per passanger mile subsidiy.

Actually, its not. The TRE carries someting like 7000 riders per day for about 255 workdays. Those $775,000 payments are quite low per passenger or per passenger mile.

If you do ever get curious, you might consider comparing the cost of building and maintaining an expressway (including interest and lost property tax revenue), versus the revenue it creates through gas taxes based on vehicle miles travelled on the road.

As a hint, I'll note the national "cost recovery ratio" of expressways hovers around 10-20%. Most of the gas tax revenue is created by the 75% of vehicle miles travelled on local roads, which are paid for out of your property taxes to your county and municipality, and not the gas tax. High property taxes subsidize low gas taxes on heavy users of the roadways such as truckers and travelling salesmen. And even at the state level, huge amounts of general fund revenue, especially sales taxes it seems, are used to prop up the low gas tax rate. If you shop a lot in a state like Virginia, you are subsidizing heavy users of the expressways.

A toll rate of about 5 cents per mile average is needed for breakeven conditions on an expressway for cars, with a much higher multiple of 5 to 10 times that amount needed for heavy trucks.

As a final bit of food for thought, the freight railways pay nearly $500,000,000 in property taxes on around 200,000 miles of rail lines. The Interstate and National highway system is of a comperable mileage. Ergo, municipalities are losing out on $500,000,000 in property taxes that must be made up by you and I on our houses and businesses because roadways are publicly held and not taxed.

4 posted on 12/25/2002 12:26:01 AM PST by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: GOPcapitalist
The people on that bus are welcome to drive to the station and pay to park. There is no "right" for them to have their bus come for free and use the facilities of a system they didn't help pay for. You can't have something for nothing. Its not right to expect the core Dallas area to shoulder the burden of paying for the increased mobility of people from a much wider region who are freeloading on the inner area's financial sacrifice. If they want this sort of access to the system, let them pay in a certain share towards the system's capitalization as specified by the DART formulas.

This is hardly a unique situation. You might look into the mega billion dollar stakes out in the San Francisco Bay area over what is the proper buy-in amount for new counties to join the BART system and enjoy use of the 80 some miles of system built previously buy the money of original three counties.

There's always chislers trying to freeload off the hardwork and money of others. Its surprising to see someone with your handle support such welfarist tendencies.

5 posted on 12/25/2002 12:31:31 AM PST by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: GOPcapitalist; All
-The Thoreau Institute Urban Growth and Transportation Studies--

has a lot of info & opinion refuting the "urban sprawl," "Lite rail/mass transit" and related items...

And more here:

-Independence Institute--"Rights" Research

Light Rail- Boon or Boondoggle? The Quest for the Holy Rail....

6 posted on 12/25/2002 1:05:17 AM PST by backhoe
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To: Hermann the Cherusker
"As a final bit of food for thought, the freight railways pay nearly $500,000,000 in property taxes on around 200,000 miles of rail lines. The Interstate and National highway system is of a comperable mileage. Ergo, municipalities are losing out on $500,000,000 in property taxes that must be made up by you and I on our houses and businesses because roadways are publicly held and not taxed"

The difference is that the freight railroad rights-of-way are OWNED BY THE RAILROADS, the highway rights-of-way are OWNED BY THE STATES. You want the states to tax themselves (or be taxed by local government)?? Sounds ridiculous to me.

If you want mass transit, buy buses. Light rail is an expensive fiasco, crammed down our throats by the "no-sprawl" greenies/socialists.

7 posted on 12/25/2002 3:11:22 AM PST by Wonder Warthog
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To: Wonder Warthog
Maybe the answer is that the expressways should be sold as joint stock companies, so we could tax them. Nahh ... too radical. Can't do that in the good old Socialist States of America.
8 posted on 12/25/2002 1:45:12 PM PST by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: Hermann the Cherusker
If you do ever get curious, you might consider comparing the cost of building and maintaining an expressway (including interest and lost property tax revenue), versus the revenue it creates through gas taxes based on vehicle miles travelled on the road.

I did so recently for a study on Houston roads. Freeways beat rail in every case. Whereas almost all of the freeway costs are regained in the totals raised through gas taxes, vehicle licensing, and toll roads where applicable, rail falls far short in the ammount regained by user fares. Highway beat rail in practically every single case hands down. If you'd like, I'll pull the stats for you on our line.

9 posted on 12/25/2002 11:39:29 PM PST by GOPcapitalist
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To: Hermann the Cherusker
The people on that bus are welcome to drive to the station and pay to park. There is no "right" for them to have their bus come for free and use the facilities of a system they didn't help pay for.

To the contrary. They ARE paying to use those facilities when they buy a rail ticket. What kind of mode they use to get to the station BEFORE they purchase that ticket and BEFORE they use any of its facilities is not a matter of properly seated concern for the rail operators. Essentially all this ammounts to is that (1) denying them access is IDIOCY because it turns away what would have been paying customers and (2) the fact that a bus was turned away for bureaucratic reasons does not prove that the rail line has too many passengers, as the Chronicle contends.

You can't have something for nothing.

Yeah, that's why DART charges its riders fares to use their lines. They have no business telling bus operators that they can't drop off potential passengers on a public street near the station, because those people do not become rail users until they enter the station, whereupon they pay their own user fee for the "service" by purchasing a ticket.

Its not right to expect the core Dallas area to shoulder the burden of paying for the increased mobility of people from a much wider region who are freeloading on the inner area's financial sacrifice.

First off, those people are not "freeloading" - they buy tickets like any other rider and recieve the exact same service as any other rider. Second, that the people of Dallas proper and in the DART system have to subsidize rail so outrageously beyond the revenue raised by its users is reason in itself that the project should either be shut down or privatized. Third, the marginal cost of accomodating an additional passenger on a train that is already travelling to a given destination whether that passenger rides or not is negligable, meaning DART actually BENEFITS from the ticket purchases of those people being dropped off by the bus.

The purpose of a commuter rail line is, above all else, to sell tickets and carry passengers who buy those tickets. Sending potential passengers home because they rode to the station on the wrong bus is stupidity of an unimaginable level to be expected only from the ranks of a poorly managed and heavily subsidized government bureaucracy...in other words, exactly what DART is.

10 posted on 12/25/2002 11:55:03 PM PST by GOPcapitalist
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To: Hermann the Cherusker
Its surprising to see someone with your handle support such welfarist tendencies.

No, as I do not support them. You on the other hand apparently do, as tax-subsidized rail itself is a system of welfare. In essence it does nothing more than provide a welfare subsidized transit service to a few users at the burden of a greater many non-users.

For the record, I would have little problem with a rail system that was cost effective and did not require heavy taxpayer funded subsidies to operate. Who knows, I may even be willing to tolerate a slight deficit. But in reality, rail systems all over the nation are a wasteful mess of millions in taxpayer subsidies. Part of it has to do with the fact that most of them are run by bureaucratic government agencies rather than government-franchised transit companies. This is the case with the 7 mile line we're getting right now in Houston. To give you an idea of how wasteful and costly it is, that 7 mile line's annual operating expenses alone are set to exceed the entire operating expenses for Houston's 90 mile streetcar system in 1923 when the latter is adjusted for inflation to current dollars. Back then rail ran a slight deficit, but was run by a franchised company that for the most part tried to keep within a budget. Now we're getting the exact same system on 1/10th the distance for a price that is higher than the original, all thanks to METRO - the government agency that is building and will operate the thing. And, as always, the $13.5 million annual deficit their operation will run is picked up by the rest of us, the taxpayers, even though 90% of us will never use the thing.

11 posted on 12/26/2002 12:05:21 AM PST by GOPcapitalist
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To: Hermann the Cherusker
Maybe the answer is that the expressways should be sold as joint stock companies

Fine with me. Privately owned tollways and even quasi-public ones run far better than government owned and taxpayer subsidized light rail lines.

12 posted on 12/26/2002 12:06:48 AM PST by GOPcapitalist
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To: GOPcapitalist
If you do ever get curious, you might consider comparing the cost of building and maintaining an expressway (including interest and lost property tax revenue), versus the revenue it creates through gas taxes based on vehicle miles travelled on the road.

I did so recently for a study on Houston roads. Freeways beat rail in every case. Whereas almost all of the freeway costs are regained in the totals raised through gas taxes, vehicle licensing, and toll roads where applicable, rail falls far short in the ammount regained by user fares. Highway beat rail in practically every single case hands down. If you'd like, I'll pull the stats for you on our line.

I find this hard to believe. First of all, a new freeway does not produce vehilce registration revenue. Nor do new FREEways produce toll revenue. How many vehicles per day are going down each mile of freeway? 100,000? 200,000?

Each 100,000 vehicles per roadway mile @ 20 mpg average @$0.40 tax per gallon is just $2000 per day in revenue, or $730,000 per year. At a 20 year roadway life, that produces a total $14.6 million dollars of gas tax revenue. Urban and suburban freeways are today going for costs of $50-$100 million per mile exclusive of major interchanges, bridges, etc. (rural and exurban freeways are less, but have far less traffic too, so less gas tax revenue). To this must be added the annual maintenance and police costs for the road (grass cutting, pothole repair, restripping, plowing, salting, appurtenance repair, signage updates, etc.), the lost property taxes, which must now be made up by other taxpayers (@ $1,000,000 per acre valuation and a millage of say 20 per thousand, and perhaps a minimum of 20 acres of land per mile, that's $400,000 per annum in lost taxes), and the interest costs on amortizing the bonds used to finance the construction (@4%, that's $2,000,000 per year for a $50,000,000 per mile freeway). A proper analysis would also include the opportunity cost of paying that annual amortization. Assuming $1 million per year for maintenance and police, we've got annual revenue of around $750,000 to 1.5 million vs. costs of $3.4 million or $5.4 million with opportunity costs.

The gas tax works out to aroun $0.02 per mile. Self financing toll roads like the turnpikes in some states charge about $0.05-$0.10 per mile for cars and much more for trucks for shorter distance passages. These roads do not include the complex interchanges most freeways do have at major intersections. These interchanges can cost $250 million each and more, while major bridges can easily cost billions, as will the new Wilson bridge on the Capital Beltway across the Potomac. This suggests a self-financing expressway system would cost drivers a minimum of 150% more than what they presently experience for lineal distance, with extra charges for bridges and major interchanges.

The freeway system is built upon the backs of people who do not drive on it - the people on the local roads and toll highways, and property tax payers in general. In this sense, it is little different than the mass transit systems you are decrying.

Urban personal transportation has never been a paying proposition. The first subways and trolleys were generally not successfull financial enterprises, which is why the City's were involved from the beginning. Similarly, the private sector simply did not come forth with modern roadways to improve our mobility in developed areas (unlike rural roads, which were built as private toll roads) because the capital costs are so enormous.

150 years of experience have shown that there are just two sectors of the transportation industry that private capital is willing to take on - freight railroading and pipelines. Everything else is socialized, and is going to remain that way. That said, the question is really how is public money best raised and spent on this endeavor?

13 posted on 01/01/2003 8:26:07 PM PST by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: Dog Gone
Gee, the Houston Comical has yet another in a series of articles touting 18th century trains over 21st century cars...
14 posted on 01/01/2003 8:33:34 PM PST by Southack
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To: Hermann the Cherusker
Thank you for posting the facts. Providing transportation infrastructure is a wholly proper and constitutional responsibility of government. The myth of the "self-financing freeway" is really kind of ridiculous when one realizes that railroads (unlike trucking companies) own and maintain their own infrastructure -- and still turn a healthy profit!

The government has no more business running a railroad than it does running a motor freight line. But providing planning, capital, and maintenance for rail infrastructure is no more "socialistic" than providing the same for road infrastructure. Without government support (including funding), all forms of mass transport -- road, rail, water, and air -- would be unable to operate.

America needs high-speed intercity freight and passenger rail -- the sooner, the better. Projects like Gov. Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor system are the first step in the right direction.

15 posted on 01/01/2003 9:22:20 PM PST by B-Chan
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To: Hermann the Cherusker
There is no "right" for them to have their bus come for free and use the facilities of a system they didn't help pay for.

You missed this one line in the original article:

and other cities, such as Sherman, are ineligible for membership

This looks like a catch-22 situation. The Sherman system isn't eligible for membership in DART, but they can't use the facilities until they become members.

16 posted on 01/01/2003 9:39:38 PM PST by SWake
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To: Hermann the Cherusker
I find this hard to believe. First of all, a new freeway does not produce vehilce registration revenue.

That's not necessarily so. New freeways can and do help the construction of new subdivisions, which in turn draw new residents who, as a result of a move, may be inclined to purchase a new automobile to suit their mobility needs. That aside, the vehicular registration alone, whether it increases or remains constant, provides a solid revenue-generating device that applies to users of roadways, which in turn generates a large ammount of regained roadway funding.

Nor do new FREEways produce toll revenue.

Again, that is not necessarily so. What are to be freeways are often constructed by issuing municipal revenue bonds to be repaid by user fees in the early years of their existence. To collect those fees they put in toll booths, which operate until the bond is paid off, and then the road enters into operation as a freeway. In the end you're left with a self-financed freeway construction project.

How many vehicles per day are going down each mile of freeway? 100,000? 200,000? Each 100,000 vehicles per roadway mile @ 20 mpg average @$0.40 tax per gallon is just $2000 per day in revenue, or $730,000 per year. At a 20 year roadway life, that produces a total $14.6 million dollars of gas tax revenue.

Now that's an interesting little financial game you're playing. Too bad it doesn't add up in reality. Why don't you try looking at the real numbers, as in the actual gas revenues collected and actual expenditures on freeway construction?

Here are the 2000 figures. Total revenues raised by taxes, licensing, and user fees totalled $101.5 billion. Maintenance and administration cost $59 billion while about $65 billion was spent as new construction capital. That leaves you with about $22 billion in net shortfalls, or less than a cent losses per passenger mile travelled on highways. By comparison, $1.8 billion was spent on light rail in the same year with revenue returns of only $200 million on that. That translates into $1.23 in losses for every passenger mile travelled on rail.

To this must be added the annual maintenance and police costs for the road (grass cutting, pothole repair, restripping, plowing, salting, appurtenance repair, signage updates, etc.)

Yeah, and by 2000's figures, annual administative costs were barely half the regained revenue from taxes, licensing, and user fees. Absent new construction, there would have been a $40 billion surplus.

the lost property taxes

This is just a guess on my part, but I would venture to say that the loss in property taxes caused when a new roadway takes up a small strip of right of way or frontage area are negligable when compared to the gain in revenue from the property value increases along that new roadway. Freeways make new land easily accessable, which leads to development. When land is developed, evaluations go up and the property tax base increases.

Assuming $1 million per year for maintenance and police, we've got annual revenue of around $750,000 to 1.5 million vs. costs of $3.4 million or $5.4 million with opportunity costs.

That's a lot of assuming on your part, but as I just demonstrated, there's a big difference between your assumptions and the figures as they actually happened in 2000.

These roads do not include the complex interchanges most freeways do have at major intersections.

Really? Cause the toll road network in my city has some of the most developed interchanges of any road in our highway network. And it operates on budget without difficulty. Once again, you assume a lot of stuff that simply doesn't happen in reality.

The freeway system is built upon the backs of people who do not drive on it

Nonsense. Most drivers in an urban area use a freeway at some time or another on a frequent basis, even if not daily. While it is true that there are some costs associated with road construction, they are minimal in comparison to the alternative. In 2000 it was less than a cent in net costs per passenger mile travelled on freeways. Compare that to light rail, which is truly a system built upon the backs of people who do not ride it - our taxes paid $1.23 per passenger mile of rail use in 2000 for a portion of the population that is so small it can be considered negligable in transportation measures.

Urban personal transportation has never been a paying proposition.

Much to the contrary. Between the 1880's and 1915 many cities across the nation had financially successful private transit companies with city franchises. Ours in Houston operated on budget for most of this period, save some business dispute-induced shortfalls in some years. From about 1915 to the 1930's they continued operating streetcars on a budget that was either met or fell slightly short. In the 30's and 40's finances on rail dropped, so they switched to busses which continued as a financially viable enterprise until about 1970.

The first subways and trolleys were generally not successfull financial enterprises

Again, that was not the case at all in Houston. Save business dispute shortfalls, the first big financial hits did not occur until 1915 when taxi cabs became a competitor. The city responded by regulating the taxis into non-existence, and rail continued on or near budget for another 15 years. Try again.

which is why the City's were involved from the beginning.

Houston got rail in 1874. Aside from the city giving the rail company a franchise to build on its streets, no real government assistance came until 1915, over 40 years later. Try again.

That said, the question is really how is public money best raised and spent on this endeavor?

Fair enough of a question. And as I have noted, highways are statistically preferable to rail in practically every case. My additional position is that this could be improved upon by permitting private and quasi-public highway projects when and where it is viable (i.e. toll roads, auction of certain right of ways for private fee-based roadways etc.)

17 posted on 01/01/2003 11:34:13 PM PST by GOPcapitalist
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To: #3Fan
Hey pretzel boy. I'm having trouble finding Lincoln on this thread. Could you look for me?
18 posted on 03/27/2003 4:11:55 PM PST by GOPcapitalist
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To: GOPcapitalist
Not extensive. Doesn't qualify.
19 posted on 03/27/2003 4:20:47 PM PST by #3Fan
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To: #3Fan
Earth to idiot! I posted the thread here in the first place. When's the last time you did that?
20 posted on 03/27/2003 4:24:48 PM PST by GOPcapitalist
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