Monday, July 09, 2007

Light Rail Blahs

This light rail irritant just won't go away. It seems that despite any analysis of real-life non-usage of passenger rail in the vast majority of American locales, the evidence of the conditions required to make commuters choose to ride the rails, the costs associated therein in tax dollars, the injustice of having non-riders subsidize the riders- this boondoggle plods blindly forward here in Indiana. Irritating Indy Star story.

Pressed for time, I'll address just one issue so frequently evoked by supporters when challenged on the taxes or the justice. The comeback is, "well, the interstate highways are subsidized".

Fair enough, but must that mean that we should also subsidize light rail? Saying yes is like saying that if you have an affliction that blinds your right eye, the solution is to blind the left, just to keep them on par.

Rather, let's end the subsidies to the highways. If you ride them, you should pay for them. Nothing more just than a user fee. Those who do not use the interstate need not pay for it. Likewise, those who won't ride the rails, which is to say some 95% or more of us, shouldn't have to flip a dime out of pocket into the suck hole.

The toll highways are the answer. I'm not talking about the Mitch Daniels lease idiocy. I'm talking about keeping the highways in the hands they are in, but assigning a cost to pass. It's easy enough if you get an I-Pass transponder- No need to stop at a toll booth, just drive on through and your account is charged.

Kind of like the water bill. You use so many cubic yards, you pay so much. Better than that, though, there is no base charge. Pass the booth, pass the toll. I hear no complaints about the water bill. Why should transportation be a shell game of hidden taxes and hush-hush subsidies?

To see some other current dialogue on light rail, where my name was evoked, check out Masson's Blog. I've chimed in a couple of times to make a point, all worth reading, if I don't say so myself.


Amy said...

Sorry to drag you into the debate unprovoked, Mike. But, for better or worse, you're in my mental filing cabinet as a) knowledgeable about light rail issues; and b) against publicly subsidized development of same.

Doug said...

Oops, that's what I get for using my wife's computer. That last comment was from me.

Mike Kole said...

Always check identities, Doug!

Anyhow, yep. I'm against light rail as a function of government. Private enterprise can have at it.