An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Sunday, March 14, 2004  


Very busy week so apologies for absence.

Personally I'm looking forward to Dublin's light rail system but apart from gross overspending, bizarre incompatibilities on two different rails, works causing dreadful accidents and the ruination of businesses on the construction route, Kevin sends this link to an NYT article on light rail systems in general. Here are the highlights.

...."There is a desire named streetcar among planners," said James Dunn, a political scientist at Rutgers who studies public transit. But if lightly traveled rail lines do little to serve transportation needs, that is almost beside the point for the politicians who want to build them, he said.
In the political sphere, "it's a benefits regime" that distributes jobs, contracts and influence, Professor Dunn said. "The costs are the benefits."....

...The project has cost about three times more than the earliest estimates. Since 1996, the state has paid $476 million for the contract to design and build the system and $100 million for consultants. In borrowing to keep the project afloat, the state paid outside bond underwriters and lawyers, although those costs are minuscule in comparison to the $48 million a year to be paid in debt service....

....Clifford Winston, an economist at the Brookings Institution, argues that public ownership of transit is governed by political - and therefore hugely expensive - spending decisions, and that planners routinely overestimate demand for new projects. "I do mind how much these things cost," Mr. Winston said, "but I mind more when no one uses them." ...

....Like many transportation experts, Mr. Pucher said areas like South Jersey, where development is scattered, are much better and more cheaply served by buses. But bus service is notoriously hard to sell, he added. "Even the Federal Transit Administration has said that the main problem with buses is they don't look like trains."

posted by Sarah | 22:42 0 comments
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