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Original post made
on May 16, 2011
People really want to use public transit, especially if it is efficient. If you build it, we will come.
> Ridership rose 30 percent on the bullet trains as well as on
> the local weekend trains.
This use of relative change numbers (percentages) without the raw data to go along to provide a basis for understanding, and making comparisons with other data, is an example of the kinds of dishonesty that government agencies have come to see as their SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). The daily ridership numbers for Caltrain are about 18,000-19,000 unique people a day. For the weekends, between 7,000-12,000 a day. A 30% increase amounts up to a virtually nothing, compared to the 3.5M (or so) people living/working in the Caltrain service area.
And what about revenue? How much revenue did this new service produce, against its cost? Was the increase in ridership a net gain, revenue-wise, or did it result in a loss that will have be to picked up by the taxpayers.
The Weekly's simply printing whatever it got from Caltrain is another example of how little information we are getting from the local media--some organizations seem more like stealth PR agencies for government, than advocates for the public.
Caltrain is a bust, no mater what its PR people claim.
Remember Caltrain only had to add one train and one crew to handle the 4 new weekend bullet runs, so don't be so sure it was a money loser.
I am willing to pay the ACTUAL cost of my train ride if you are willing to pay the ACTUAL cost of your car transport. I wonder how your habits would change if you had to pay the ACTUAL cost of driving your polluting car, supporting the COST of construction and maintenance and enforcement of all road systems--including freeways, flyovers, etc.? It might change your perspective.
> I am willing to pay the ACTUAL cost of my train ride if you are
> willing to pay the ACTUAL cost of your car transport
People who use their own cars pay for them (generally), and they pay for the insurance, the maintenance, and the fuel. What's a little harder to determine clearly is the cost of the so-called public transport system. Government has so muddied those waters, by failing to keep its records for construction/financing costs, in digital format, and in perpetuity, that anyone who tries to determine the cost of any major transportation system ends up with only partial costs.
There are a number of web-sites around that have made efforts to come up with costs for vehicular transportation systems, but it becomes clear that their models for both expenditures, and cost allocations are very simple-minded, and quickly wither under the light of a little hard scrutiny.
For example--roads are used by all of society: individuals, businesses, and government. All of the services that government provides, for the most part, have historically been made available via the road system. Our economy runs because of the public road system, not the so-called mass transit system. While very important in dense urban settings .. not so much in the remaining 99+% of the country.
Caltrain just moves 18,000-19,000 people a day. It delivers nothing of value to the general society. No fire engines, or police, or emergency medical response is delivered by Caltrain. The roads, on the other hand, facilitate the rapid movement of government employees who are tasked to provide these services.
So .. how does one allocate the cost of government-provided services to the average vehicle owner equitably? Most rational people would probably realize that this is not possible. So, other revenue streams are developed: taxes of all sorts, special transportation taxes, gas taxes, tolls, use fees .. and the list goes on. It is so extensive, that it is very hard to determine how much the average vehicle owner is charged, via this litany of taxes, to provide for his "fair share" of the road system.
Caltrain, on the other hand, doesn't come even half way to collecting its cost-to-operate expenses from its users. No--the taxpayers, who don't use the system, get to pick up the tab.
I feel sorry for people who have to drive to work. It's no wonder they're so cranky.
Imagine 18,000 more people on the road? A single driver in a single car who is maintaining a safe driving distance takes up a lot of space on government-mediated asphalt. Does every citizen really deserve that much space on their way to work via the government-sponsored and mediated construction project? Meanwhile, someone sitting on Caltrain often has someone sitting right next to them - closer than even people sitting in the same car (which is why some people find it so abhorrent - sitting that close to strangers). Let me remind the cranky-pants that there were railroads before there were highways, and there are still railroads, and those railroads are much more efficient at moving heavy goods from point A to point B, not to mention moving people out of the way of Mr. Entitled's car - as he puts it - 18,000 people out of his way and he still complains.
Improving our public transit systems is a lot cheaper than building more highways.
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