Friday, March 29, 2013

San Antonio Railroaded By Runaway Light Rail

The San Antonio City Council and Dictator Mayor Fidel Julian Castro voted to soak taxpayers for $180 Million in 2011, railroading them into a light rail street car program that is doomed to fail.

The San Antonio City Council and the city's socialist oligarch mayor don't pay particular attention to cost-benefit analysis studies before they push certain spending projects. They also tend to ignore common sense.

They do tend to employ the "everybody knows it's best for everybody" fallacious argument. In the case of light rail, also known as street cars, it isn't a case of "everybody knowing". It is a case of everybody being lied to and the truth being buried.

The voters in metropolitan Atlanta, GA quickly paid attention to the cost-benefit analysis of light rail when the government proposed raising taxes to support their project called TSPLOST. TSPLOST lost its referendum.

The simple answer is that the facts were published. Sunlight shined down on the plague of ignorance. The voters found out the price tag and their share of it. Then they found out how much the program would cost them after construction completed. Like herpes, light rail was the infection that would never go away. It was determined that the cost per passenger required was too expensive for the average public transit passenger to pay. So the fares would be kept artificially low. The difference would be subsidized through increased taxation. Next came the utilization estimates. It was determined that light rail would not bring any more passengers than a bus service, yet cost astronomically more.

The same is the case with San Antonio's light rail program.

The program will cost taxpayers $40 million per mile. A new bus, plus drivers, gasoline, and operating costs would cover over 20 miles for the same price.

The program also prioritizes the light rail construction over road construction, expansion, and repair. So, the average citizen, who drives, suffers to accommodate the few who may actually ride the street cars.

Those who support the light rail state that buses are capable of carrying an average of 35 passengers. Light rail street cars can carry 75.  However, the VIA buses rarely run at full capacity. If at only 60%, that would be 20-21 passengers. The same amount would travel on the street cars, leaving 55 empty seats. Taxpayers would have to pay for those empty seats. Cost per passenger on a street car is three times that of a bus. That means that taxpayers will be soaked for 155 bus fares per street car, per trip.

The city's public transit system runs at a an average $11 million deficit per year. In other words, each year, it costs taxpayers an additional $11 million to run the system. That's cumulative. That means after 3 years, the program will be $33 million in the hole. It loses money. It is not self-sufficient. It is a waste of taxpayer money. 

This further aggravates the fact that San Antonio has one of the highest per capita public debt burdens for a city in the country.

San Antonio could have doubled its bus service, paid for Castro's Pre-K indoctrination program, had money left over, and not borrowed a single penny or raised taxes with what the light rail program costs.