"Is it time to privatize rail? Not a bit. It is time to kill this money eating pig. The old question keeps popping up - lanes or trains? Most of us would like the lanes, thank you. Put the LRT in the dustbin of history - right next to the Edsel."
Did you ever wonder why Tim Walz has such hair brained ideas? Like, to raise our already sky high gas tax? What sense would that make? For starters, our roads have been neglected. Anyone who drives on them can tell you that. Also, the traffic flow grown so much, it has outstripped the infrastructure. Whose fault is that? The Metropolitan Council. After the 610 freeway was done, they said no more. We will just have to make do with what we have. If you don't like it - take a train.
Why do I bring up Walz's gas tax proposal again? For two reasons. First, because we are limited (thanks to the Met Council) on how many roads we can have, any new gas tax will do NOTHING to help our congestion. Second, if we started using our transportation dollars for roads ONLY, and not part of it for trains and bike trails, we would be much better off with our road maintenance. Like so much better off, we would not need any increase in gas tax.
"Okay, smart guy", some might say, "just how are we going to fund our light rail then?" Privatize them. The whole kit and caboodle. What? Do you know how much that would cost? Yes, I do. But if this was privatized, they should cost less than they do now. Why? Companies, motivated by P/L would be doing the job.
"But what about the cost of a ride? If the government won't subsidize, who will ride these things?" That is a good, and a very important question. Not only would the cost to acquire and build need to be amortized, but also the operating costs would need to be rolled in. In the business world, it is called the TCO - Total Cost of Ownership.
Here is the irony. If we privatized rail, even being able to make it and maintain it cheaper, NOBODY would ride it. It would still be way too expensive. Right now the North Star, has a round trip subsidy of about $40. And that is just operating costs. Roll in the amortization costs, and you would end up with a ghost train on each ride.
This now brings us full circle. Of course, we would never privatize trains. No business with an ounce of sanity would jump into that quicksand. Only the government would. So, to keep building and maintaining trains, more dollars need to be taken away from roads. The more dollars taken away from roads, the more progressive populists like Tim Walz will cry out for more taxes. They cry for more, more, more from already overtaxed Minnesotans.
Is it time to privatize rail? Not a bit. It is time to kill it. It is just a money eating pig. The old question keeps popping up - do we want lanes or trains? Most of us would like the lanes, thank you. Put the LRT in the dustbin of history - right next to the Edsel.