Costly Rail Project Boondoggles Still Fascinate Politicians

It’s been more than a century since the legend of railroad engineer Casey Jones became a ragtime music hit. Now, in this second decade of the 21st Century, railroads are hardly the stuff of legends; yet they continue to hold a strange fascination for political leaders searching for ever more creative ways to spend taxpayers’ dollars.

In recent years, advocates of taxpayer-funded transit projects, including one of its biggest cheerleaders, President Barack Obama, have told Americans that “investing” in rail projects around the country would “get the nation moving again.” The rhetoric may be intriguing and the sentiments laudable; but the price tag for such nostalgia is staggeringly high.

Take for instance California’s planned high-speed line. The original cost estimate for just the first section of the line running 178 miles from Merced to Bakersfield, was $7.1 billion – nearly $40 million per passenger mile. But wait – there’s more. The Associated Press reported last week that costs for the line will be dramatically more than the earlier estimates — anywhere between $2.9 billion to $6.8 billion, pushing the total cost of the line to $10 billion to $13.9 billion. This computes to an astronomical pre-passenger-mile cost of between $56 and $78 million.

Roelof van Ark, chief executive of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, explained to the AP that the higher estimates for the rail line “are now realistic and fair.” He also acknowledges that the price tag for the entire planned system will cost more than the original $43 billion price tag.

Likewise, the Obama Administration has called the line “sustainable” and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently said that “it would be so short-sighted for California – the most populated state in the country – to walk away from the bonding capacity they already have, some $10 or $11 billion, because of what they think the cost might be.”

It is this cavalier attitude toward spending American taxpayers’ money that has caused our nation – and states like California – to rack up trillions of dollars in debt with no end in sight. Clearly, this rail line has become a taxpayer-funded boondoggle, despite what its apologists say.

On a slightly smaller scale, Georgia politicians are preparing to sucker Peach State taxpayers into funding rail projects as part of next year’s “TSPLOST” — a one-cent sales tax increase that will raise billions in spending cash for political leaders.

Among the frequently mentioned projects that could be used to sell the tax hike to voters is a $1.2 billion light-rail line in Cobb County that will take 15 years to build and at least $10 million to operate. If history is any guide, this line will see costs increase substantially and the government will keeping comeback to taxpayers for more money.

The legend of Casey Jones may have dimmed in the past century, but the costs for ill-conceived and poorly-planned rail projects have become legendary in their own right.

By Bob Barr – The Barr Code

90 comments Add your comment

DeborahinAthens

August 17th, 2011
6:48 am

If Georgia wants to become competitive, we have to do something about the traffic. Building more roads is not an option. Anyone that has ever lived and worked in NYC, Boston, or Chicago knows you park the car and use the mass transit. I believe one reason Charlotte is eating our lunch is because they build a rapid transit system to service the area. I agree with you on a lot of things, this is not one of them.

Aquagirl

August 17th, 2011
8:03 am

Let’s take a quick look at the list of TSPLOST projects—oh, look, $53 million for spaghetti junction! How much have we spent on that interchange over the years? Why are we spending more? There is also $450 million for the 285/400 interchange. That’s just two of the projects on the list, I-285 is under constant construction and still jammed to the gills. Why is it not a “boondoggle with no end in sight?”

This whole conservative/libertarian love of roads is completely without logical merit. Roads are subsidized by taxpayers, there is nothing special about them. They appeal to the ME, ME, ME selfish mentality of folks like Bob, who assert they want government out of their lives, unless it’s providing them with their endless ribbon of taxpayer subsidized asphalt wherever THEY want to go.

Eric

August 17th, 2011
8:12 am

Amen! Many times in recent Atlanta history (since 1970s) have people vote for a tax increase to “solve” our transportation problems, only to have to do it all over again just a few years later! This means nothing if another 1-2 million people move to the metro area. Similar to our water situation.

Jimmy62

August 17th, 2011
8:17 am

A few more programs like that, and even the few people left who still seem to want to live in California will change their minds and move to Texas. I’m sure the residents of San Francisco will love it, other than Hollywood, they’ll be the only ones left in the state, none of those pesky poor people that they price out of living in S.F. will be able to bother them again.

Jimmy62

August 17th, 2011
8:21 am

Aquagirl- It may be a boondoggle, but it’s one that people choose to use. I’m not saying Atlanta couldn’t use a better system than MARTA, but regional public transportation like a train from Atlanta to Chattanooga just isn’t needed, won’t be rode, and will end up an albatross around the neck of taxpayers, just like AMTRAK and just about every other intercity rail line. Seems like now is not the time to waste billions on a train hardly anyone will ride. If you can find me evidence proving that tons of people will ride it, and it will make the money back quickly, I might change my mind, but all evidence is to the contrary.

Aquagirl

August 17th, 2011
8:37 am

Jimmy, people choose to use roads because we’ve spent trillions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies making sure they go everywhere.

If you want evidence rail works, Deborah in Athens listed three cities where it does work. Atlanta is more spread out because folks like you demand endless tax dollars so they can drive everywhere. It’s not your god-given right. We better figure out what transportation we can afford, not what you think you’re owed by virtue of buying an SUV.

Balance

August 17th, 2011
8:46 am

I’m all for the trains and even raising capital to build them. The problem? I don’t trust politicians or their buddy contractors to build them efficiently, I don’t trust the government to operate them, and I don’t trust the employees to be satisfied with their pay and benefits for long. I worked in Philly for a while and rode a train into the city. No problem with how it worked and even the service. When the contract was up for all the workers, the threat of strike came out. Get the people hooked on trains then threaten to take it away in exchange for more. Greed runs at all levels, not just CEOs and politicians.

q

August 17th, 2011
8:46 am

You’ve got to pay to play. The roads around Atlanta are HORRIBLE! We need to relieve traffic congstion and obviously adding lanes has not worked. We need new public transporation options. I’m sure Mr. Barr lives inside the connector and doesn’t have to commute with the rest of us working folks spending an hour to get to and from work.

Common Sense

August 17th, 2011
9:01 am

The Atlanta StreetCar Beltline project? As much as 1.6 billion $$$$…..

Ten percent of the money for metro Atlanta transportation projects will be going to this?

Here’s my favorite:

Marta state of good repair and station enhancements…$600 million dollars.

Just a monetary shift in funding while we continue to pay the MARTA tax we already have.

rod

August 17th, 2011
9:02 am

Charlottes lite rail line is losing tens of millions of dollars a year and has only around 30% of capacity being used. The atlanta trolley aimed to build business runs from Underground to MLK site, not a whole lot of business getting built up there. You are going to have to build the outer perimeter it would allivate so much traffic dumping into downtown and 285

Common Sense

August 17th, 2011
9:03 am

People choose roads because they go where we want to go, which is an infinite number of destinations.

Rail goes where they want you to go to a limited number of destinations.

Burroughston Broch

August 17th, 2011
9:03 am

@ Balance
You are entirely correct about Philly trains – they are a jobs program first and foremost. I rode one from the airport to downtown Philly a month ago, and it had a staff of 5 for 3 cars. There was a driver, a ticket seller for each car, and a roving supervisor. It makes MARTA look efficient!

A Conservative Voice

August 17th, 2011
9:07 am

NONONONONONONONONONONO……..a thousand times, NO. I will never vote for TSPLOST…..I do not trust our government period, on this issue. If passed, I can see it now, the funds will be manipulated and the majority will go to that never ending “Money Pit” known as MARTA. Folks, do not be fooled by those smooth talking politicians……

Brad

August 17th, 2011
9:10 am

I never understand people’s arguments against rail, especially when they’re most likely the ones that complain most about traffic. You can NOT just keep building more roads to solve the Atlanta region’s traffic problems. There’s no silver bullet, but rail is a key piece in so many other successful major cities. There’s no better way to move mass amounts of people in and around an urban area. Do people that hate transit not travel and see what a successful transit system operates like in other cities/countries? Are they sheltered or just ignorant? I always hear the cost argument and it’s getting annoying. The longer we keep holding off on investing in transit, the more expensive it’s going to get. Plus, I don’t think people truly understand how much their love of asphalt really costs. I work for DOT and it costs a pretty penny to build and MAINTAIN some of these major roadways that already are or one day will be packed to capacity. Atlanta’s love for cars and roads will be the death of this city.

Art Thomas

August 17th, 2011
9:14 am

Mass transit is a function of supply and demand.With the collapse of jobs in metro Atlanta now down 250,000 in last 4 years job growth has shifted to Columbus, Lagrange, Savannah and Chattnooga, TN. These smaller urban areas can not justify the enormous cost of linking with Atlanta other than existing interstates 75,16 and 85. Metro Atlanta continues to decline based on poor education (APS)poverty (seeAJC headlines 8/17/2011, worst rankings in practically everything measured by the government) Marta being the most expensive and underused system in America..

With the pending collaspe of the US dollar in next 12 months unemployment will surge well into 30% range and with that the roads will be very empty as no one will use $10.00 gasoline to commute to the 8.00- 12.00 per hour jobs that now make up 60% of jobs that will be available in metro Atlanta.With all of these factors in the mix and coming at us the planning is almost a mute point for unimaginably expensive projects in the near and long term future!

Jesse Jackson

August 17th, 2011
9:19 am

I can’t wait for the rail line to the MLK center. That will be a real boost to the economy and a great use of taxpayer $$$.

Call it like it is

August 17th, 2011
9:19 am

The bill stinks, and money is being thrown into a never ending pit. There is no accountability. All you have to do is look at the toll for 400. It ended for a week, and then it was put back into place.

jackie

August 17th, 2011
9:45 am

I refuse to vote for any of the SPLOST’s because it has been proven time and time again that if you give control of money to the government it will be wasted, misspent, and stolen. I would love to see rail systems like in most of Europe but it will never happen here with our incompetent crooked politicians and their track record of nepotism. By the way you all do know that the European rail systems are mostly money pits that are propped up with tax money; same with NYC, BOS, and CHI.

shawny

August 17th, 2011
9:49 am

Say no to TSPLOST.
Voluntary taxation for something that gives little in return is stupid.

The solution is to incent carpooling. It requires no additional infrastructure. It requires very little cost at all. And no, the HOT lane conversion is NOT the answer.

A few years ago, coworkers and I started carpooling to work. We get (today) to use the HOV lanes on I-85. They are great. If the DOT and state govt wanted to make the trip up and down I-85 better, it would simply extend the length of the HOV to Hamilton Mill, then as certain interchanges become crowded, give relief to them so as to not back up the highway.

Put HOVs on I-285 and I-75. Take existing lanes and stripe them. It will incent carpooling even more. Taking cars off the road IS the answer.

Most people that have never carpooled haven’t tried. They use the excuse that they have too varying of schedules and don’t work with anyone nearby. However, if you actually try, and make your schedules as flexible in leave and return times, then reach out to those that live in your area and work in your area (though not necessarily at the same company), you will find that it can be done.

High speed rail – downtown trollies – friggin toll lanes that disincent 2 person carpools are NOT the answer.

Exiting soap box now.

Drill Baby Drill!

August 17th, 2011
9:50 am

Funny how those that are complaining about the “railway boondoggle” will be the first ones to complain when the price of gas goes up. You go to any advanced city in this world – New York, London, Chicago, hell even Beijing – and you will see they have extensive railway systems in place. What would insure our economy against future uptick in oil prices? The short-sighted conservatives want to continue wasting money on bigger and more roads, and continue to send American money to the Middle-East countries that continue to hate and attack us. It is this conservative-led short-sighted attitude that is leading to the ruination of this country.

sam

August 17th, 2011
9:55 am

problem with high speed rail is that he benefits wont be realized for a long time, while the costs will be absorbed now (and in the future)..our society has no patience, we want it now or else forget it. The costs are high but it seems to me we’d mke them up tenfold in oil savings, productivity gains, and overall quality of life…we have no vision in this country anymore..it must be stuck in traffic.

Gerald West

August 17th, 2011
9:58 am

Bob, great nations are built, not dreamed or prayed into existence. And, they’re built by capital improvements not by consumer spending. We’ve already built more roads than we can maintain. Let’s now build railways that will become ever more useful as petroleum prices increase and highways become more clogged with cars and trucks.

If the US has a future, railways will become the transport of choice because trains move more people and more goods more efficiently than cars and planes. Energy prices fluctuate in the short term but trend upward in the long term as the easily-accessible reserves are depleted. Auto traffic in major cities is already at a standstill during rush hours, and tedious at all times of the day. Traffic gets heavier as the population increases; we really can’t build enough highways to keep up with the demand unless we’re willing to pave over a good portion of the country.

Building stimulates the economy by creating jobs and consumer demand. Building creates structures that are useful for many years to come. The economy will benefit more from government spending on capital improvements than from consumer spending on Asian-made goods at Wal-Mart and Best Buy. It is good business and government sense to finance major capital improvements on borrowed money, to be paid back over time by the people who benefit from the improvements.

If penny-pinching whiners like you and the ignorant Tea Partiers had influenced American government in the 20th century, our major population areas would still be linked by rutted dirt roads instead of interstate highways.

Pompano

August 17th, 2011
10:04 am

This tax is full of slush-fund projects for the developer crowd. They built in a $95 million feasibility study for light rail in Gwinnett. These studies typically cost $1 mil – so a cool $94 mil that Charlotte Nash has added for her Developer buddies (Wayne Hill) to skim.

And Lamar Willis is on the ARC. If this slime-bucket will setup a fake scholarship fund and steal money intended for students, what do you expect his take to be from the T-Splost cookie-jar kickbacks?

T-Splost = Charity for Contractors/Developers. Vote No!

Grasshopper

August 17th, 2011
10:12 am

‘Anyone that has ever lived and worked in NYC, Boston, or Chicago knows you park the car and use the mass transit.’

True. But these are train-heavy systems and were built AFTER the density of these urban areas had already developed and BEFORE the advent of the automobile.

I’m not saying that mass transit should be ignored but it has to fit in the context of the existing urban framework which in Atlanta happens to be roadways – insufficient and ineffective though they may be.

caslosgvv

August 17th, 2011
10:18 am

Many European countries have high-speed rail lines. China has launched an ambitious long-term project to build more high-speed rail lines. And yet, it we contemplate it, conservatives call it a boondoogle. Could it be that The Airline Industry is funding the politicians in return to keep from having to compete with high-speed rail?

Grasshopper

August 17th, 2011
10:24 am

‘Could it be that The Airline Industry (in the US) is funding the politicians in return to keep from having to compete with high-speed rail?’

It could be. It also could be that the high-speed rail industry in Europe is funding the politicians in return to keep from having to compete with the airlines.

And China…well it’s China. What the government wants, goes.

MARTA Rida

August 17th, 2011
10:24 am

I believe that MARTA receives zero fundign from the state and is entirely funded by the people of Fulton and DeKalb counties. Now is the time for the rest of the metro area to pay its far share to use the public transit system. Rail is the only answer ince it will not get caught up in traffic like GRTA buses and carpools. Look at the big cities who have effective mass transit systems. Rail extends from the central business districts, more than downtown, to the suburbs and from suburb to suburb. Lets vote YES on the TIA and get Atlanta moving again.

Common Sense

August 17th, 2011
10:31 am

@grasshopper,

Those locales were also heavily funded by the federal gas tax, with revenues coming from locations such as Georgia.

And for Marta Ride, those empty GRTA buses running up and down the roads in North Fulton are a waste of dollars.

dc

August 17th, 2011
10:33 am

Rail service in Atlanta is never going to be a viable option for most of us. It works in cities where you can get off the train, and either walk or take a short cab ride to your final destination. Then, walk to your appointments, lunch etc during the day, and walk back to the station after work. Atlanta doesn’t fit that model, given the fact that the city has nothing forcing development into a small area.

Roads and buses will remain the best answer for any area like this that is not dominated by 1 or two commercial areas that contain all the jobs. I’d love to see a study as to what the money spent all these years on Marta could have built in the way of more flexible/usable infrastructure. I think we’d be amazed….

AlphaDawg

August 17th, 2011
10:46 am

I lived in Charlotte for 3 years and using it as example will not further any arguments in favor of Light rail here in ATL. Charlottes system is way under utilized and ran well over its cost estimates, it only services the south part of the city, and it will never show a profit. When I left they were decreaseing its service(fewer trains). Charlotte also has a Trolly service just for CenterCity, this service was mainly paid for by the large Corporations that has HQ there in town (BofA, Wachovia, etc). I Iived in Center City and never once got on a trolly, it was quicker and easier to walk, last I heard the banks wanted to discontinue this service as well because there was little usage and the homeless would get on these trolly and never get off during inclement weather.

Sam

August 17th, 2011
10:53 am

Why do we always have to get into the paradigm of either/or when we talk about rail? Envision this: you drive your CAR onto an intercity train, which then takes you (and your car) to the regional city nearest your final destination, and then you drive on to where you want to go! And you’ve saved a lot of gas and not had to think about getting there. Make these trains high-speed, and you’ve also gotten to your destination (with your car) FASTER than you could’ve driven. Why is no one thinking about possibilities?

Real Athens

August 17th, 2011
10:54 am

Follow the money. The pave more roads mentality in Georgia is born out a long history of the DOT and all the companies that profit from building more roads. It is insane that there is not a rail line connecting Athens and Decatur — especially with the advent of the new medical school at UGA. Build it straight down the median of 316 before taking a left at U.S. 29 in Lawrenceville.

Ask yourself, if (like in Italy, Japan, France, et. al) you could get on train for $40-$50 a head at be in Savannah, Charleston, Jacksonville or may of the the gulf beaches in 2-3 hours would you go?

Would everywhere the train stopped generate commerce? Would cities where these lines ran have to re-think their infrastructure and become more pedestrian friendly? Would private business answer the call for this need of infrastructure update/upgrade? Would it create good paying, private sector jobs for an extended period of time?

Nah. Just build another road.

Angus

August 17th, 2011
10:56 am

I don’t like the high-speed rail initiative because cities like Atlanta haven’t developed enough inner-city transit to get you where you need to go once you get close. I don’t like rail up and down 75 & 85 for the same reason.

But I do like the Beltline coupled with the envisioned streetcar system. Successfully build that and then the others will start to make sense.

And (I always feel the need to say this), the TSPLOST is a wretched piece of legislation.

nathan

August 17th, 2011
11:01 am

Buses, buses, buses! While i disagree with MOST of this TSPLOST, the one sensible part to me is the potential I-20 Corridor expansion…There is “not enough” money to put rail in this area, so the plan is to build bus stations along the route…If ridership is sufficient, and “proves” that rail would be beneficial, then tracks get laid to link the stations…This model needs to be followed ALONG THE PERIMETER. Rail lines that cost billions of dollars to build that only stretch 5 miles or so (Cumberland, Clifton Corridor) and that target SPECIFIC groups are wastes of money and will NOT be getting my vote. The GRTA Xpress buses are a good idea, but they need more ridership which would provide more revenue, which would provide greater flexibility in their operating schedules…It’s like the chicken and the egg…

Grasshopper

August 17th, 2011
11:02 am

‘Ask yourself, if (like in Italy, Japan, France, et. al) you could get on train for $40-$50 a head at be in Savannah, Charleston, Jacksonville or may of the the gulf beaches in 2-3 hours would you go?’

You would still have to have a car once you got there.

‘Envision this: you drive your CAR onto an intercity train, which then takes you (and your car) to the regional city nearest your final destination, and then you drive on to where you want to go!’

An overland ferry for cars!! Get serious.

SPSU

August 17th, 2011
11:02 am

AmTrak – taxpayer funded at a cost of $1.5 billion a year
MARTA – supported by a penny sales tax from Fulton/DeKalb

Yes, let’s just keep throwing money at rail.

Another Cynic

August 17th, 2011
11:07 am

The anti-rail rhetoric in this region is just laughable…. this region will be an afterthought if suburban commuter rail and other mass-transit options aren’t implemented soon.

I lived in Texas for several decades… When I moved to Atlanta everyone talked about Spaghetti Junction like it was some sort of magnificent engineering feat. TxDOT builds freeways, access roads and interchanges all over that state that seriously puts Spaghetti Junction to shame. BUT…. even in the “Great State of Texas” state leaders finally realized that building roads and adding lanes isn’t the answer. Dallas, Houston and Austin are now building rail lines all over the place and people are riding those trains. It’s good for the economic vitality of the entire region EVEN IF YOU CHOOSE NOT TO USE IT!

Still Grumpy after all these years

August 17th, 2011
11:15 am

The solution to Atlanta’s traffic problems is tele-commuting. If employers would let 50% or so of their workers to tele-commute 4 days a week, it would go a long way to solving a lot of problems. The technology is there, including visual teleconferencing, desktop sharing, remote control of a computer. But bosses still like to count noses, so it ain’t going to happen.

Brad

August 17th, 2011
11:25 am

Gerald West, “If penny-pinching whiners like you and the ignorant Tea Partiers had influenced American government in the 20th century, our major population areas would still be linked by rutted dirt roads instead of interstate highways.”

I love this! At least Gerald West gets it.

Commuter Dude

August 17th, 2011
11:40 am

Rail systems for public transit work when the growth of the area was integrated around the exisitng transportation. To go backwards and try to add rail after the growth and population exists, is futile. Rail transit works in the northeast because the population grew around the existing rail system. MARTA will never work because it was envisioned as a transportation alternative much to late to be effective. Same with Charlotte rail. These so called “rail strategies” are nothing more that election rhetoric and political boondoggles and not effective commuter solutions. Too little too late.

last

August 17th, 2011
11:51 am

high speed rails are too dangerous. If a train goes 200 mph, it only takes one kid putting one penny on the track to derail that train. That’s just physics. Also, if a train goes 200mph, then the sound barrier is broken and every single farm house window will break, killing all the cows in it’s path. That’s just bio-physics.

Bob Barr is very wise about this issue of trains, planes and automobiles.

Grasshopper

August 17th, 2011
11:53 am

Another Cynic,

Can you tell us how the systems in Texas are funded? I am curious if they are projected to be economically sustainable.

Jane

August 17th, 2011
11:55 am

If you are looking at rail boondoggles, look no further than the street cars down Peachtree St. idea proposed by Shirley Franklin. That rail line is going to be nothing but a curiosity for tourists, not utilized by Atlantan’s and will further congest traffic wherever it is. Then we have MARTA, a bottomless, mismanaged money pit that does not go anyplace practical except the airport and maybe Lenox Mall. The system of one fare regardless of distance is a joke also.I lived in DC and it was around 10 cents ant the time to hop from one station to the next and the lines went everywhere. Let’s not forget the fare on GA 400 that was supposed to end but they simply rebranded it to something else and that is supposed to make it ok. I’m voting NO to the SPLOST because these idiots have demonstrated that they can not get their act together.

david

August 17th, 2011
11:55 am

The costs of building the rail isn’t out of line with the costs to build in Europe, which has an extensive system of HSR.
Is it just that Americans can’t build great things any more? I hope that’s not true, because Europe and China are leaving the US in the dust when it comes to infrastructure and their future prospects. It seems America is getting old, stodgy and played-out.

MrLiberty

August 17th, 2011
11:59 am

If rail were sustainable private industry would be building it. In the early days of rail transport in this country virtually every rail line and car was privately built and operated. When the federal government got involved with the Interstate Commerce Commission (the first unconstitutional federal agency – essentially created by the big railroads to destroy their smaller competitors) the decline of successful, sustainable rail systems began.

Nothing government does is successful. Not a single dime should be given to another government program or project. Theft from the citizens doesn’t become any less immoral because a majority of people voted for it. NO on SPLOST – all of them.

Don

August 17th, 2011
11:59 am

Commuter Dude: Good argument except it doesn’t explain Wash DC. Transit of various types was added as an overlay on a city that grew up around a highway network. DC is now dependent on Metro, MARC and VRE.

I would also add that without MARTA rail, Atlanta would look a lot like Detroit. A doughnut where the city core has rotted away. It is not coincidence that the popularity and new construction in midtown parallels MARTA. No MARTA = no revitalized midtown. I find that most people who think MARTA rail doesn’t do much are those that rarely ride it.

Smart, economic rail transit makes sense. I’ll conceived, gold-plated and “porky” rail project do not. $1B for light rail should get you 50-100 miles of brand new line, not 25 .

Commuter rail could be done for a song if stations started out with gravel lots with timber and asphalt platforms. Rebuilt secondhand equipment is available for a fraction of the cost of new. A rebuilt commuter coach would generally half or less than the $2+M for a new one. Same for locomotives.

Even expensive rail transit is cheaper than adding the same capacity to existing highways. Would $1B be enough to add even one lane in each direction on I-75 into Cobb?

It’s just too easy to spend tax money for “pretty” transit, I guess.

Dejay

August 17th, 2011
12:04 pm

I think the major problem we have is that we all want to get to where we want to go whenever we want but our roads don’t have the capacity to fit every person who owns/maintains a car. Yet when it comes to any alternative other than building another lane to the interstate, we balk at it because it still doesn’t get enough cars off the roads to offset the gridlock at rush hour. Any penny we see that goes to it is a penny we could use to put gas in our tanks. Factor that with an engrained fear of other people having access to our side of town via mass transit and coming up with a plan that suits the majority is an uphill battle. Them’s are the facts

People, the only way we’re going to get this halfway solved is to come up with a new mode of transportation that gets folks where they want to go, when they’re ready to go, without the thought of having to share rides with other people they’re really not familiar with (which is why folks down here use every excuse they can to not carpool, Shawny). It’s time to face facts; we don’t have enough ROW and/or $$$ needed to build the amount of additional lanes needed for today’s capacity let alone what it will be 10-20 years from now. And while mass transit is a nice idea, it still requires a car or bus to get to it because the rails are so far away from residential areas in the suburbs. So how about building something that combines both aspects of it? Here are some folks who are working on stuff like that right now….

http://www.skytran.net
http://www.taxi2000.com

That’s the kind of thing that is going to give the boost to the economy this country so desperately needs. It won’t be another stimulus plan or waiting on someone to discover a bunch of gold like they did in the Yukon many years ago. It will not come from discovering stuff that folks want but developing stuff that folks NEED and in massive doses. Whoever is the first to put this out on a mainstream basis will have billionaire great-grandchildren when its all said and done. I know that those two concepts given sounds ‘pie in the sky’ and Jetson-like but so did cars and airplanes a century or so ago. I’m sure that those who were in the horse and buggy industry were laughing at such a silly notion as a combustible engine and some contraption that could carry people in the air. Those folks aren’t around anymore.

I may be off my rocker but why are we still trying to solve 21st century problems with 20th century technology? But what do I know…

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will crush the heads of the perverted New World Order integrationist crowd and their devilish black minions

August 17th, 2011
12:06 pm

The New World Order integrationist crowd and their devilish black minions aren’t putting fluoride in the water of Americans for nothing. My research shows if fluoride is ingested on a continual basis, it will calcify the pineal gland. And as a result, men and women are spiritually reduced to their lower nature i.e. acting feebly on primal instincts.

Rene’ Descartes did a study on the pineal gland. He believed it to be the seat of the soul and the point of connection between the intellect and the body… And researchers in our Amish styled society learned that once the pineal gland is activated, it gives a men and women supernatural power which elevates them to their higher nature i.e. to do the works of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

A calcified pineal gland shows us that advocates of taxpayer-funded transit projects is all about politicians attempting to improve transportation etc in the nation, state, or city. But an activated pineal gland shows us that it has little to do with improving transportation etc, but everything to do with politicians awarding taxpayer-funded transit project contracts to corporations and otherwise for personal gain, kick back, or Quid pro quo.

For example, David Sherzer, a spokesman for the former president, said that since George W. Bush left office, he has delivered nearly 140 paid talks, at home and abroad. Those speeches have earned Bush about $ 15 million.

Bush is following in the golden path blazed by his predecessor Bill Clinton who recently delivered a speech in Kuwait City on his assessment of Barack Obama’s foreign and economic policies. Clinton was paid $500,000 but he is not the worst violator…

The Barr Code knows exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve seen him in action at the Richard B. Russell Federal Building forcing politicians to account for their criminal economic activities. But nevertheless, the politically robbery of Americans in plain sight has increased exponentially in federal, state, and city governments intertwine in progress.

Amen?

Darwin

August 17th, 2011
12:06 pm

I say build it in Iraq or Afghanistan. Americans like to pay (or borrow) for those kind of infrastructure projects in countries we invade. Just don’t build them here in the U.S. and give us the jobs. LOL

Another Cynic

August 17th, 2011
12:19 pm

@Commuter Dude
Your statement regarding growth and transit integration is correct. Land use patterns, zoning and density play a very important role in the success of mass transit. I believe it is wrong to compare Atlanta to northeastern cities like Boston, Philadelphia, New York etc… because their base land use patterns evolved before the automobile became a dominant player.

Sunbelt cities like Atlanta have to take a different strategy…one that INCLUDES rail investment. Roads alone won’t cut it, but roads with some commuter rail options as a supplement to roads help. You can still connect major employment/economic centers with existing residential areas in major Sunbelt cities. Dallas, Houston and Austin are doing that today.