Cheat-Seeking Missles

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Mass Transit, Mass Stupidity

One of my favorite columnists is a free market guy who sees over-regulation all around him and gives Greenie rhetoric no quarter. His name is Patrick Bedard, and if you aren't familiar with him, it's becuase you're not a subscriber to Car and Driver.

His newest column, which isn't available on-line, assaults U.S. transportation policy, which shuns the roads we all love, and squanders big money on mass transit -- a mode of transportation Bedard is quite familiar with from having lived in New York, where everyone knew how to do the subway or bus or taxi calculation.
I can still do "the calculation," and it tells me that once you leave Manhattan and maybe Boston and Washington, D.C., "light rail" is a fraud on the taxpayers. Here's why. Everyone is more than four blocks from the train stops, and so are their destinations If you have to drive to the train, well, you might just as well keep driving. Even the worst traffic beats having some pierced-tongue gangbanger eyeing you as you wait on a lonely platform.
Here's some numbers Bedard provided; do your own calculation:
  • Number of new lane-miles needed to ease projected congestion: 104,000
  • Projected cost: $533 billion over 25 years, or $21 billion a year
  • Earmarks in 2005 spending bills: $50 billion
  • Money needed to relieve LA traffic congestion: $66.7 billion
  • Long-range funding for LA mass transit: $66.9 billion
  • Percent of LA population using mass transit to commute: 4.8
  • Estimated cost of congestion per year in fuel, pollution and lost time: $200 million annually
  • And once again, the cost of building the lane-miles we need to relieve congestion: $21 million annually
Planners may think we all ought to live in dense, dirty, crime-ridden cities and ride mass transit to near-by jobs, but as long as this is a free country, the people won't do what the planners think they should do.

By the millions of mortgages, they're opting for the suburbs and a commute by car. Are the planners and bureaucrats admitting that reality? Nope. Do Americans care? Other than about the squandered money, nope.