Romance of the Rails

This good book by Randal O’Toole lays out the nationwide disaster that is urban rail transit and light rail: deferring maintenance to the tune of billions of dollars while constantly spending more billions for expansion. Never mind delays, accidents, deaths and low ridership. The pols just keep on building.

Not just in Austin, but in Boston, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Atlanta & etc. O’Toole doesn’t examine Austin but Jim Skaggs, former Tracor CEO, sure does:

“Austin and Cap Metro transit [rail] plans being developed by ‘Project Connect’ are based on reducing current car lanes on major roadways to provide dedicated transit [rail] lanes. This ill-conceived plan would result [in] some of the most devastating negative impacts, in history, on Austin citizens’ quality-of-life and living costs.”

Because people refuse to give up their cars and, so far, government can’t make us.

Go back just two years and read Forbes contributing writer Scott Beyer on why Austin is “perhaps America’s leading rail transit failure.” A monument to government waste.

Austin and Capitol Metro go on building more while light rail and transit rail are collapsing all over the country.

You have to wonder why. Are the pols just stupid? Could be. Or corrupt? Could also be and probably is. New construction is always good for covering up the graft and bribes which are a staple of political life.

O’Toole: “Buses can not only move more people than light rail, they can do it faster.” Ah, but there’s no romance in buses, even with electric connections and free wifi at your seat. Nor near as much graft.

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