Sound Transit wants a $54 billion light rail expansion: Will the last person leaving Seattle - TURN OUT THE LIGHTS!?
More Obsolete Than Ever | The Antiplanner
$54 billion!? Do they have any idea how much money that is? Or how few people one billion dollars of light rail transit transports?
Here in Geater Portlandia we have spent just under $4 billion on light rail. All public transit in Portlandia carries about 2.4% of total trips in Portlandia, of that light rail carries about 40 - 45% or about a total of 1% of total trips.
So, for the low, low price of $4 billion Portlandian light rail carries 1 trip in the city out of 100. Or it carries 0.25% of the total trips per billion dollars in expenditure. This seems also to be a diminishing number, meaning that the more one spends the lower the return becomes.
Seattle's $54 billion could potentially increase light rail ridership to 13.5% of total Seattle trips, but I find this impossibly optimistic. More likely this will increase total light rail trips to perhaps 4 -6% of total trips. It would likely cause total transit trips in Seattle to jump fairly dramatically, however, the cost is so huge, that it simply does not make economic sense, especially in light of the coming self drive auto revolution. This would be a bit like building a billion dollar buggy factory in 1905. Just about the time buggy's roll off the line, sales evaporate.
Our betters in government, and often businessmen as well, are essentially linear thinkers. They believe that everything will continue as it has for the last many years. They can not see sudden disruptive changes like the smart phone, or the laptop, or the personal computer, or, or, or . . . Even thought they lived through the last many decades during which these radical changes took place.
These people believe in something, here urban planning, transportation planning, and authoritarian planning and control of the citizenry. They know that what they are doing will benefit the people of the area, even if the people do not what the planning. They become blinded to reality, and lose touch with any understanding that what they want to accomplish must be accepted by the people, and will be altered by the people as new innovative changes appear.
While I was down at MCRD San Diego to participate in Maddogsson's Marine Corps Boot Camp graduation, I took Uber to the base a number of times. While none of the drivers knew their way around the base proper, that was to be expected. The rides were better than any taxi ride I have ever taken. I also took an Uber share ride for one ride which reduced my cost by about half. How long before Uber, or Lyft, or another begins to offer programed commute pickups where an individual rides with others during the commute from home to office? Perhaps it has already happened.
A $12 Uber ride from a near suburb with three two additional stops to pick up the second, and third rider would still be very quick when compared to transit, and would be door to door. The fare per person would be about $4 plus perhaps $0.50 - 0.75 per rider to compensate for additional time for the stops. Frankly, at this cost, the cost of my downtown parking in 2000 exceeded the daily fare, today it would be much more for monthly downtown parking.
The self drive car will only drive these costs lower since there will be no need for the operators "wage." Competition will then quickly drive the prices down, and innovation, better car designs, and more efficient engine sizing will drive them even lower.
If this option had been available to me while I worked downtown, I would have rarely driven and only at times when I knew I would only be in the office for a short period of time before I needed to drive to a distant appointment.
The end point is that unless serious efforts are made to nip these wildly inappropriate expenditures in the bud we will end up paying for them long into the future, long after the rails are ripped out of the ground, and the roads rebuilt for the self drive car.