Copyright © John Jones, 2/25/10
Public Rail Initiatives can seem great at first but to understand them they can be broken down into cost, construction, and consumers issues. Coming up with a billion plus dollars to build regional rail systems is simple. It’ll come from tax increases. Most sales tax increases are RENEWED therefore can be considered a permanent tax increase.
In addition, government projects are notorious for cost over runs. The Big Dig-22 billion. Denver Rail-$7.9 billion. Salt Lake City Rail over 1 billion. Tampa Bay Interstate expansion 269 million. Who’s to say the same thing won’t happen during the construction of a rail system here? Better question is how much of it has already happened in the metro areas that have spent billions reviving this flawed transportation scheme.
The constitution allows government to take up homes and business for just compensation for public use. However, recently those rights have been grossly abused. Property can be taken and given over to private developers to increase the tax base, or some other public pork barrel project. The construction of ANY type of rail system would REQUIRE the local or state government to utilize eminent domain to build the track bed, build stations AND new pedestrian friendly neighborhoods. Thus, dislodging compensated or not, Americans from their homes and businesses for something they may never have asked for. Building tracks in the medians of the interstates system is great for when there is actually room, but what happens when there isn’t any room left? You got its E.D. (Eminent Domain) time.
There are countless examples of homes and businesses being taken in the name of private use, public use, even for the public enjoyment. Although, the latter would not be admitted to by the seizing authority but intention and action is clear. How many homes and business would need to be seized for a new rail transportation system in Hillsborough County?
When station neighborhoods are developed who decides who gets a home or business. Will it be 1st come 1st serve? Track record says NO. The authority WILL charge and regulate in order to get the “Right” kind of people thus leaving the rest of us “on the wrong side of the tracks.”
Many municipalities discarded light rail years ago, but now they spend billions to bring them back. Thanks to the automobile we do not live in centralized neighborhoods. Everyone moved to the suburbs, and left the crowded central cities behind for an open sprawling countryside. For rail systems to work and be affordable we’d all have to move within shouting distance of a train platform. Just how are we supposed to do that? Oh wait those areas would be bought up and controlled by the authority. Hmmm!
A majority of people neither would nor could not live near projected stations so they’d need large parking areas, especially during sport events or conventions. This additional traffic would increase congestion on local streets and roads, in essence, causing the problem it’s mean to solve. Yet again hmmm!
It’s common knowledge that government subsidizes transportation, and yet prices increase yearly in every mode. Riders can expect ticket price to increase 10-40% per year or more, and when they can’t pay they’ll just get fed up and start driving or just taking a bus. A waste of billions of dollars! Dare I say hmmm a third time?
The interstate system is a vital part of our transportation system. It was great for its time, but something must be done because they’re NOT designed to handle theses quantities of vehicles. We need system of designing and building roads that doesn’t cost upwards of 1.5-3.5 million a mile yet allows traffic flow and not be in never ending gridlock.
WE COULD SOLVE MUCH OF OUR ROAD CONGESTION IF PEOPLE WOULD JUST LEARN HOW TO DRIVE. For instance, Red light runners, tailgaters, speeders, aggressive drivers, distracted drivers, people who stop for no reason, people who do not change lanes or merge correctly, people who think they own the road and people who just DON’T KNOW HOW TO DRIVE cause traffic slowdowns when they wreck or cause a wreck. Enough Said? Instead of spending a billion or more on a rail system you can improve the roads yes, but TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO DRIVE CARS!! That alone would theoretically reduce deaths and congestion. At a minimum less people would die from car accidents and that would surely be a good thing!!!!