Light Rail Insanity, Detroit Edition

I have written before about light rail and the boondoggle that it often represents in the United States, such as here.  Now, via Hot Air (natch, as I seem to spend half my time on that site), we learn that the thriving metropolis of Detroit is planning to spend upwards, and it will be from there upward, of $500,000,000 on about 9 miles of light rail connecting downtown with the suburbs.

This is truly insane.  Over the past 60 years, Detroit’s population has shrunk from 1,845,000 to just 912,000 people as of mid-2008.  Many parts of the city can now be described as a ghost town.  Check out this site for some amazing pictures of abandoned buildings.

The last thing Detroit needs is to be saddled with millions of dollars in construction and maintenance costs for a light rail line that is almost certain to come in over budget, be used at significantly below capacity, and require ongoing subsidies to keep afloat.  Light rail fares don’t come close to covering even operational costs, much less recovering the investment in infrastructure.

By the way, lest you think that’s Detroit’s problem, not yours, 75% of the construction costs will be borne by the federal government — that means you or your children.  Moreover, as I learned when looking into the finances of my local transit authority, the Regional Transportation District, a significant amount of the ongoing costs of public transportation is often borne by the federal government as well. 

What Michigan in general, and Detroit in particular, need is good government that can create an environment that is conducive to businesses forming and growing in Detroit or desiring to move there.  The last thing Detroit needs is the additional burden of light rail.

Published in: on October 14, 2010 at 11:08 am  Leave a Comment  

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