Report on WXNT Appearance
I was delighted to be back in the studios of Newstalk 1430 WXNT-AM on the northside of Indy, on the "Abdul in the Morning" program. Abdul invited me to take the opposition side on mass transit and light rail. Mark Fisher of the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce was on the "pro" side of the issue.
Two things struck me about the Chamber's position:
1. They are talking now about backing a comprehensive system for the Central Indiana region
2. They seem willfully ignorant of the effect the tax burden would have on our regional economies
The Chamber touts this as an investment in the region. I said I felt like Carl Sagan, because I was explaining that honestly that investment is "billions and billions" of dollars. The proposed Nickel Plate corridor is not a system. It is a route. It would cost a billion dollars. That's $1,000,000,000.00! It would serve only a handful of the region's commuters. I believe it is unfair to serve this select, tiny subset of the region's population, at the expense of the whole region.
The Chamber replies that it plans to serve everyone, with a regional system. So, I'm Carl Sagan again- billions and billions... Have to get to the airport. Have to go to Carmel, and Zionsville, and Greewood, and Mooresville, and... billions and billions. It's an investment, but it's also a process that strips money away from everybody, regardless of whether or not you have an interest in riding. That's an inequity, and should not be instituted by law.
IndyGo's model is positively awful. More than 80% of the operating revenues come from taxes. Why on earth would we desire to expand this drainage? Why is the Chamber so willing to tax us into oblivion?
People in Central Indiana may react emotionally to gas prices and say that they will ride the train. But, do the reality check.
Once you get off the train, are you going to walk to your other destinations? Or, take the bus? Don't you really actually like having your car for the freedom to stop and impulsively by that $4 latte, or to run a couple of errands on the way home from work? How will you achieve that if you are taking the train? Will you mind a train ride that takes 40 minutes when the car ride is 25 minutes? Each way?
Name the biggest, most constant target for terror attacks in the USA. It's the New York Subway, isn't it? Think of what it will be like when you become dependent upon mass transit, and your route is interrupted, by an accident or yes, a terror attack. Ready to walk that 20 miles? My best friend Steve, had to do just that in NYC when service was recently interrupted. That's one long walk from Manhattan to Queens.
A caller said that he believed that light rail systems are the darlings of socialists. I couldn't agree more. It makes the Chamber's position, and the Republicans in Hamilton County that back it so stridently, less surprising by the day, but all the more disappointing.