Overruns, Subsidies and Pollution

Tide Light Rail in downtown Norfolk. Photo credit: Hamptonroads.com
Tide Light Rail in downtown Norfolk. Photo credit: Hamptonroads.com

by James A. Bacon

Randal O’Toole, the Cato Institute’s transportation scholar, has penned a devastating take-down of Norfolk’s light rail system, the Tide. The rail line, which opened in 2011 60% over budget and 16 months late, ran operating losses of $12.5 million in 2012, about double projections. Farebox revenues covered about 5% of operating costs. Hoped-for redevelopment around the Tide’s eleven stations has yet to materialize. (The post is supposed to appear on O’Toole’s blog, The Antiplanner, but I could not find it there. I am relying upon an email version.)

Now, says O’Toole, the editorial writers at the Virginian-Pilot want to compound the folly by slashing fares from $1.50 per trip (before discounts), among the lowest in the nation, to $.50 in a desperate bid to jolt ridership and stimulate economic development. The problem with that idea, he says, is that it cannot generate sufficient ridership to encourage developers to build around the train stops. The idea would expand the operating deficit while doing nothing to build the property tax base.

Ironically, light rail, much beloved by environmentalists for taking CO2-emitting cars off the road, is more energy-intensive at low levels of ridership than automobiles. Writes O’Toole: “Norfolk’s rail line uses far more energy than cars: 5,400 BTUs per passenger mile in 2012 compared with an average of less than 3,400 for cars and 4,100 for light trucks (and 3,7000 for Hampton Roads buses).”

O’Toole continues:

Rail transit is supposed to be about bringing large numbers of people into major job centers. But there are no major job centers in the region, or at least none served by the Tide rail line: Norfolk has only about 24,000 downtown jobs, less than 3 percent of the metropolitan area. Transit subsidies are also supposed to help low-income people who don’t have cars reach jobs, but the 2012 American Community Survey found that only 2.6 percent of workers in the Norfolk-Virginia Beach urban area lack cars, and half of them travel to work by car, while only 32 percent ride transit.

In fairness to the Tide, the rail line’s financial performance has improved since 2012. A mid-2014 review indicated that farebox recovery had increased to 17.7% and the operating cost had declined to $3.4 million (or $6.8 million annualized).

Still, even the updated numbers call into question the wisdom of extending the line to the Virginia Beach resort district, a project that could cost more than $1 billion. Does Virginia Beach really want to spend hundreds of millions of its own money (the state and feds would pick up much of the tab) for the privilege of creating a permanent subsidy and tax drain at a time when Americans are driving less and congestion is easing?

Bacon’s bottom line: Mass transit is a great idea… when it works. But the fact that heavy rail has done wonders in New York City and the core Washington metropolitan area does not mean that light rail will have a similarly transformative effect in a sprawling, low-density metro like Norfolk-Virginia Beach. You can’t force-feed mass transit. Commuter rail requires high-density, mixed-use pedestrian friendly development around rail stations. That land use pattern does not exist in Norfolk/Virginia Beach right now. It will take appropriate zoning, years of re-development and public investment in creating walkable streets before there is any chance of generating sufficient ridership to justify the investment.

There is a logical progression for mass transit: Serve a transportation corridor with scheduled bus service and support it with higher-density, mixed-use rezoning. If and when sufficient redevelopment occurs along the corridor to support it, upgrade the service to Bus Rapid Transit. If and when sufficient redevelopment occurs to support another phase transition, upgrade the route to rail. That process could well take decades, too long a time to satisfy impatient environmentalists who want to save the world now. But it would be fiscally sustainable in an era in which Virginia local governments are increasingly hard-pressed to meet their obligations.

Meanwhile, the Uber-Lyft revolution continues to roil the transportation industry. Using smart phones to connect drivers with riders and writing algorithms that optimize the distribution of fleet vehicles serving different price points and demographics (Cadillacs for rich riders, vans for poor riders) could render much of our transportation infrastructure obsolete. I’m still waiting for a politician who says it’s time to prioritize ride-sharing over mega-road and transit projects. Surely, there’s someone out there!

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31 responses to “Overruns, Subsidies and Pollution”

  1. Tysons Engineer Avatar
    Tysons Engineer

    Sorry Jim,

    You lost all credibility with me on this one. You paint this grim picture… about year 1 operations, and then go on to point out how the line is getting better this year in terms of return, projections, and fare recovery.

    All major transit projects take many many months to figure into the millions of micro decisions that people who live in those areas make. Habit changing, commute chaning, etc is a long process that doesnt happen over night, people need to find out about, look into it, etc.

    The fact that it has had a significant turnaround in less than 2 years from that 1st look should garner more than a “in Fairness”.

    As far as the extension of it to VA Beach, I would tend to agree actually but not because mass transit isn’t workin in Norfolk, but because VA Beach has no plans to actually utilize transit or shift land use practices.

    1. Tysons Engineer Avatar
      Tysons Engineer

      Additionally, you suffer from the delusion that many of the conservatives “We support transit too, but” crowd fall into.

      ” If and when sufficient redevelopment occurs along the corridor to support it, upgrade the service to Bus Rapid Transit. If and when sufficient redevelopment occurs to support another phase transition, upgrade the route to rail.”

      You people really need a primer in engineering, or just logistics.

      How pray tell, do you keep a BRT line operational within the same infrastructure corridor/right of way, while construction a light rail line.

      I’ll wait here for your answer, and if the answer isn’t buy more right of way for the temporary condition, and or spend orders of magnitude greater amounts of money to attempt to either elevate above or dig beneath… then you are wrong.

      Additionally, you think that BRT is really just add a lane? When you have a system like BRT which integrates into a road network, everyone forgets all the additional costs that come with it until it actually goes to final construction plan. You have to have special overpasses constructed, new interchanges, new stations. Its just like any major corridor upgrade (for instance Route 28 limited access project) where the idea started small, but then you had to add in all the interchange modifications (while maintaining operational interchanges) over and over. That costs money, money that is often ignored by the “do BRT… but really I just mean mixed-traffic bus routes” folks.

      1. OK, maybe there’s no logical progression from BRT to light rail. But there is a logical progression from bus to rail. And you need density for the economics of rail to work. The density doesn’t exist.

        1. Tysons Engineer Avatar
          Tysons Engineer

          That I 100% agree with. We should have high frequency good bus service in a lot of places, but the problem being that those funds ALWAYS come from public sources, where as rail can atleast usually piece together some partial private funding if not substantial private funding in CBDs.

          There are no cookie cutter solutions absolutely, and those who think rail = better always are wrong, and are halting good progress that delays smart planning for decades by making perfect the enemy of good… and in some cases promoting an unsustainable infrastructure that doesnt have the numbers to support.

          The bad leap in that thought comes when people say, for areas that already have high capacity bus that is maxed, that BRT could be done now and rail later. Thats penny wise pound foolish. If you are already progressing towards rail in such a way, where you have empirical evidence that land use and usership exists, it is better to establish the rail for 30-50% more cost, than to do BRT, and then go on to double the cost by adding rail later. Of course if the lag is believed to be 20-30 years before the rail would be needed then maybe the numbers shift, but often it is a 10 year horizon, which becomes shortsighted to go to BRT instead if numbers support rail also.

    2. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      It’s crazy to try to evaluate a major transportation project after a single year, except to compare its performance against milestones. It’s like concluding your child should or should not go to medical school after completing kindergarten.

      1. well not for Conservatives and Libertarian types.. any whiff of governmental miasma is reason for the “govt sucks” war dance…

      2. well not for Conservatives and Libertarian types.. any whiff of governmental miasma is reason for the “govt sucks” happy dance…

      3. Tysons Engineer Avatar
        Tysons Engineer

        I second this. And whether successful or not is usually not an aspect of the infrastructures worthiness, but the jurisdictions comprehensive approach with land use. Either way, infrastructure and land use are issues that should be judged on decades long spectrums, not years.

        For instance, only recently have we truly started getting good data on Arlington’s land use and infrastructure planning through the 80/90s and how its affected Arlington’s growth/traffic/schools/public services. Imagine if the Arlington concept was judged and either terminated or continued based on 1980 only… “well the rail didn’t help anything. Lets scrap it and build freeways, what a waste this is!”

        Imagine how many billions of dollars in revenue and development and business would have been lost to Virginia had something like that happened and Arlington turned into Springfield instead.

        1. Good GAWD O’Mighty – 3 of us agreeing!

          we have an enormous double standard here between transit and roads and we play this silly game with respect to farebox and REGIONAL congestion relief where we assert that transit fails the value test if it does not pay for itself with farebox or offers congestion relief –

          while at the same time – we choose to not use any such standard with roads.

          Fully 1/2% of the sales tax in Virginia goes to transportation – and not only that – the revenues from the sales tax EXCEED the revenues from the gas tax – yet we still play this game of “transit is not cost effective but roads are” game.

          so my question is – what would happen if we passed a law saying that the ENTIRE 1/2% sales tax could ONLY go to transit and not roads?

          what would happen? Would we still be playing this game that “roads pay for themselves and transit does not”?

      4. TooManyTaxes Avatar

        Larry, I’m not arguing for or against rail. Each case must stand on its own. My objections are: 1) we often cook the books to make rail look economically feasible when its is not; and 2) developers are not paying sufficient sums for the rail projects that give them huge density and large profits.

        We also cook the books for many road projects done for economic development, e.g., the Outer Beltway. We shouldn’t permit this for either roads or transit.

        When someone constructs a great building, he should reap the profits because there is generally no subsidy for the construction costs. It’s free market capitalism. But the same does not hold true for the developer – the one that gets the land rezoned. There, the public normally pays a significant portion of the costs for constructing the infrastructure that enables the profits from the rezoning and higher allowed density. I think this is not free market capitalism, but rather corporate welfare. The public should not subsidize higher densities, be they conversion of a corn field to tract homes or the redevelopment of Tysons.

  2. Richard Avatar

    I think Cato underestimates the value of multiple transit alternatives for urban renewal and business generation. Density is key to business generation – not just restaurants and bars, but science, consulting, financial advice – everything is easier in a dense urban setting that attracts professionals and businesses of all types. Cheap and alternative transportation lowers the per person costs of roads, parking, infrastructure; it provides opportunity to everyone in the community – not just those who can drive a car, and not just those living on the right bus or transit line – to access the benefits of a big (exciting!) urban center.
    Maybe the issue in Norfolk is a design or zoning issue. I don’t know. But imagine an urban center at the end of a rail line/bus line that combined a public library, a community college, public meeting places, recreational facilities – and open to the entire community – plus a pleasant inspiring place that took into account the history and the soul of the community; a place that the residents would be proud of and extoll to outsiders. What a center for business and community development, and community change. You can’t really do that right without transit.

    It’s easy enough to criticize civic projects if your only focus is taxes and current costs. If you’re the Cato Institute, that (and benefiting property owners) is about it. Great cities, like great companies, have a vision for the future and how to get there, and transit of all types will be part of it at some point. Maybe Norfolk was premature, but let’s see what happens in 20 years.

    1. I agree, urban design is an issue. Norfolk hasn’t paid much attention to it. My parents live in a high-rise retirement community about a block and half from the end of the line, which is across the street from Norfolk General Hospital. In theory, they’d be the kind of people who would use the Tide to access amenities along the route. But they don’t ever use it. Neither do any of their friends.

      One reason is that the walk to the station is not what you’d call pedestrian friendly. Mostly empty space with a couple of drab buildings. No visual interest whatsoever. Old people would feel vulnerable and exposed. Maybe the area will be re-developed and that will change. For Norfolk’s sake, I hope that’s the case.

      1. Tysons Engineer Avatar
        Tysons Engineer

        Ah but isnt that the chicken and the egg?

        If you don’t put in the rail, then you must continue the cycle of auto-centricity, after all you can’t just bring everything to a halt. Rail gives alternative non-road methods of movement, so that you can start the process of correcting sprawl, reducing road sizes, improving walk access so that todays urban decay sprawl zone, can become tomorrows walkable neighborhood with rail access.

        1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

          TE – if sprawl means more people will live in Loudoun, Fauquier, Prince William, etc. and the costs of supporting schools, parks, fire, police, etc, remain there, instead of coming to Fairfax County, I’m quite open to sprawl. Fairfax County is getting close to being built out if we are going to retain anything close to a livable location. That is not to say we cannot have any urban areas in Fairfax. But we also need to preserve the other areas – suburban and semi-rural. The basic character of a neighborhood should not change absent consensus from its current residents.

          1. Tysons Engineer Avatar
            Tysons Engineer

            Strawman. Not even the topic at hand.

            Jim is stating that his parents can’t walk to stations in the same breath as he notes that Tide is lower than expected ridership. His argument being that tide shouldnt have been built (or atleast should be questioned).

            My point being that, without tide, the ability to reduce road lanes is impossible, the rail provides a separated system (similar to a bypass) that allows for local traffic reduction, and therefore more mobility by non-vehicle at the point of stations.

            If you dont put the rail in, then you can never improve walkability without running into the DONT TOUCH MY ROAD! crowd. You have to actually show traffic reductions for a decade before most of a certain generation will let it go.

            On the subject of neighborhoods, no neighborhood wants a 6 lane road on their front lawn, so I’m not sure what that has to do with anything other than once again bringing the Herrity fight into a case where it doesnt belong.

            Tysons will gain nearly 80,000 people over the next 30 years in a space of 3 square miles, less than 1% of the land area of Fairfax. Perhaps you should realize what that means in terms of preserving neighborhoods, instead of thinking it somehow destroys them. Its a relief valve, keeping bad sprawl away from good neighborhoods.

          2. TooManyTaxes Avatar

            TE, my comments were on point responding to your comment about preventing sprawl. My point is: Not everyone thinks sprawl is a bad idea. A lot of people think Fairfax County (and probably Norfolk) is big enough as it is. I think we can absorb some more people, but, in order to retain a good quality of life and reasonable taxes and fees, I think Fairfax County needs to plan as if it is close to capacity.

            I’m also not arguing that the only alternative to my position is more and more commuter traffic. As more people move outside Fairfax County, jobs and businesses follow. For example, this year, as commercial valuations were lower in Fairfax County, they rose significantly in Loudoun County as more businesses either moved there or formed there.

            A lot of the money for the smart growth groups come from wealthy people who live in rural areas (western Loudoun, Fauquier, etc.). They want to maintain their quality of life and tax levels by pushing growth to Fairfax and other nearby areas. Screw em I say. I’d rather the growth happens there if the alternative is a Fairfax County of more than 1.5 million people. While not everyone will agree with me, many will.

  3. what light rail is about – land use. The intent of light rail is to do what highways do – direct investment towards land that adjoins the transportation facility.

    It’s not considered a subsidy any more than a road is… or for that matter, schools, EMS, water/sewer, etc.

    I wonder in fact, if anyone has ever really done a “farebox recovery” analysis for a road!

    Second – I don’t understand the hysteria over Uber and Lyft – because basically they are claiming that technology gets them a leg up over cabs and transit but the reality is:

    1. – they don’t want to work under the same -public safety regulations


    2. – what keeps Cabs or transit from also adopting Smartphone technology ?

    read this: http://www.mta.info/press-release/nyc-transit/mta-real-time-bus-tracking-comes-manhattan

    I think the folks that think uber/lyft are going to displace cabs/transit are living in a dream world. They’re having an impact for sure but the “competition” is not going to fold up and disappear. They’re going to give uber/lyft a real run for the money.

    Nothing is going to kill Uber/Lfyt quicker in a city that one high profile disaster that has real hurt or killed victims… along with the realization that Uber/Lyft will use “surge” pricing – which will be perceived by some as “predatory” pricing.. the payday-loan version of cabs.

    People who get “burned” are going to get over the novelty pretty quick especially when they figure out that there are places where Uber/Lyft won’t go not even for money!

  4. I don’t know who you’re thinking about when you talk about the “double standard” between rails and road. I’ve spilled a lot of digital ink on this blog making the case for a system in which road users pay the full costs of building, operating and maintaining roads. The fact that the road-financing system is a disaster is no excuse for tolerating a rail-financing system that is also a disaster. What the current system ensures is that no one knows what anything really costs, and any mega-project we build, whether road or rail, is likely to an uneconomical waste of resources.

    1. re: ” The fact that the road-financing system is a disaster is no excuse for tolerating a rail-financing system that is also a disaster. What the current system ensures is that no one knows what anything really costs, and any mega-project we build, whether road or rail, is likely to an uneconomical waste of resources.”

      fair enough. What would you do – have a total moratorium on road and rail until we get joy on cost-effectiveness?

      Bonus: if you never get to cost-effectiveness on neither road nor rail – would you then consider them like schools or libraries or other tax-funded services ?

      At what point – what’s your dividing line between – essential tax-funded services and subsidized services held to a higher cost-effectiveness standard?

      1. or let’s put it this way – what criteria is used to categorize a govt service as having to meet a specified cost-effectiveness threshold?

        what services need to meet that standard?

        are there any tax-funded services that cannot be subjected to a cost-effectiveness threshold standard?

        take something like fire/ems, or law enforcement or solid waste disposal…

        what determines whether or not these services need to meet a particular cost-effectiveness standard and is the threshold supposed to be – “break even”?

        I’m NOT advocating that we should give a “bye” to any service provided by the govt – but it does appear that there are double standards as to what has to meet a standard – or not – and why.

        I do note that in some places in the country – that solid waste, fire/ems and even schools – operate via service district with fees/taxes. If you live in such a district – you either have to pay the fee or you are allowed to not pay the fee but not get service, i.e. your house burns down or the ambulance bills you and sends the bill collector if you don’t pay up.

  5. If we were to analyze all modes of transport – can we find any that are not subsidized in various direct and indirect ways – to include obtaining the right of way via eminent domain – on the cheap?

    virtually all public roads are obtained by forcing owners to sell, not compensating them for economic value lost – and that includes the local govt which also loses because such land is taken off the tax rolls.

    I think if we want to have an view, a perspective on ROI for transport – it needs to apply universally to all transport – not just selected parts.

    Over time, we have developed a myopic and incorrect view of roads have a superior ROI but it’s a sound bite mentality at best. Tell me how many roads have we actually performed a true cost-benefit on? How many roads have we built under the guise of economic development then actually provided the numbers to prove the “farebox” pays for the road?

    Yet, when it comes to METRO – or other light rail systems like the “Tide” – we actually REQUIRE that they provide the costs and farebox data when we don’t require anything like that for most other forms of transport, i.e. how much in gas tax did the road generate and how much was spent in maintenance and operations for that segment?

    I’m NOT trying to justify subsidies here – I’m asking why we us different standards.

    IF we DID use such a standard – would we find out that virtually no transport infrastructure truly meets the “farebox” test?

    so why do the opponents of light rail – never actually provide the counter example for roads to make their case?

    this goes back to a bigger picture – where in today’s political environment – we build the opposition case against something specific -but not the comparative real world case where other solutions also have warts. So we demonize one approach that has warts – without ever providing a workable alternative. Health care ,Immigration,Abortion and regulations in general are examples.

    we present the opposition case but seldom a real and feasible alternative.

  6. It did take awhile for the miracle that is today’s RB Corridor in Arlington to spring up after the Metro come in. We might want to give this 5 – 10 years.

    1. re: giving it time

      If you think of light-rail as an INVESTMENT in land – to target it for economic development – then what criteria would you use to determine success?

      How many cities in the world have abandoned light rail because of it failure to ever reach farebox break-even status?

      I think the opponents are doing a huge disservice in their analyses but especially so with groups who are philosophically opposed to government involvement in areas they don’t approve of. Govt Roads are good. Govt Rail is bad. End of story.

      So they generate what are essentially opposition studies that put microscopes on the warts of what they dissaprove of – then they walk away without advocating real reforms and alternatives – just stop doing light rail because it “fails”. Nevermind that virtually all highways FAIL the same test – but that’s water under the bridge now – stop light rail – let highways continue … Never once have I see a study from these groups that make the case that BOTH modes FAIL and BOTH MODES should not be built.

      and the reason why is painfully obvious.. at that point, folks realize that these groups are not about solutions and moving forward – they’re about a philosophy of government that, if you followed that philosophy to it’s logical end – we’d not have any government transport infrastructure at all.. But they stop short at rail and do not apply the same standard to roads because they’d be exposing their own failed ideas.

    2. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      I’ve talked with a number of people who worked on the RB Corridor’s revival. They all said that success came over time in significant part because the planning process included all stakeholders and no decision could be made without some level of consensus. The neighbors could not veto any specific development. The developers and builders could not construct anything they wanted anywhere at anytime.

      Through years of hard work by community groups in Fairfax County, most especially those working under the umbrella of the Greater Tysons Concerned Citizens, Fairfax County moved away from business as usual and gave seats at the table to all interested stakeholders willing to do the hard work. The results included a Comp Plan that virtually everyone could support (with just a little holding of their noses) and an infrastructure funding plan that again was generally supported. So long as this process remains in effect and the plans and agreements followed, over time, Tysons can be very successful. But success at Tysons doesn’t mean replicating throughout the county or accepting massive population growth in Fairfax.

      1. re: ” But success at Tysons doesn’t mean replicating throughout the county or accepting massive population growth in Fairfax”

        but wasn’t population growth the net result of the RB Corridor’s revival?

        why would developers invest in something if it did not benefit them?

        it would seem the only way they’d benefit is if they built more housing or built more expensive housing or they built commercial – that, in turn, depended on more rooftops and/or more people coming there to shop.

        it would seem that any way you cut it – you’re going to get more people.

        or turn it around – can you give me a scenario where re-development “works” without more people?

        1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

          Larry, Tysons is planned to have 100,000 residents and 200,000 workers after 30 to 40 years. That’s part of the County’s plan. It’s not intended to grow to 200,000 residents and 400,000 workers. One can support growth at Tysons and still see the County about at its planned capacity or oppose even more growth at Tysons.

          Similarly, one can support some higher density at other county rail stops in Reston and Herndon without favoring urbanization throughout the county.

          We can have this targeted growth with profit to builders, but without saying we’d accept 2 million people (0r more) living in Fairfax County.

          1. just curious – is the target for Tysons the same current density of the RB corridor?

            I truly don’t know but I’m curious as to what the density has become over time – around the older Metro locations.

            If we could draw a 1/2 mile or one mile corridor about the older METRO stations and then compare the density today with the density back when those stations were built – would we know anything of relevance in thinking about how Tysons will progress?

            I do look at major arterial roads in NoVa that are lined with residential. Those areas no longer look like “residential”.. they’re now fronting on busy roads.. and in some folks minds (like mine) probably better suited to denser residential like multi-story apartments and/or commercial.

            we see this down where I live also. As the two-lanes are widened to 4 lanes – the residential degrades to rental then to 8du residential or commercial.

            or am I off on a tangent here that has little to do with the primary issue?

          2. TooManyTaxes Avatar

            Larry, with the exception of Rosslyn, the Tysons planned densities will be more higher than the rest of the R-B corridor. Rosslyn may be more comparable to the four Tysons stations.

            I cannot speak about changes in density in Arlington, but the four Tysons stations within a quarter mile have unlimited density so long as building heights don’t exceed 400′ (generally), total commercial density for Tysons does not exceed 45 msf and total density (all types) does not exceed 84 msf. Once 84 msf is reached, each new SOV trip must be canceled by one non-SOV trip. Density drops significantly at Tysons as one gets further from the stations.

            Fairfax County has a lot of older SFH housing on busy streets. There is generally a strong neighborhood pushback against attempts to make these low Rs (say R4 and higher) more dense. Some builders and county staff may feel differently, but so far, have generally been checked by planning commissioners and supervisors. The later seem more open to adding a housing mix to commercial areas being redeveloped with some good access to transit – say, for example, the old Springfield Mall and Baileys Crossroads.

          3. good info TMT. thanks.

            can you illustrate with an example – how much 85msf is.

            If you had a 20s story one acre footprint building .. how many sf is that?

            if one acre is 40,000 sq ft would 20 be 800,000 sq ft?

            so we’re talking a hundred 20-story office towers – more or less?

  7. Yeah, I’ll concede, three years is too little time to determine if the Tide will stimulate the hoped-for development around its Norfolk stations. But I would say that it takes a blind leap of faith, given the limited activity so far, for Virginia Beach to spend $1 billion to extend the Tide to the resort area in the expectation that it will stimulate development. It takes a lot more than plopping down a rail line. Just witness the difference between Arlington and Fairfax County’s Metro stations. Fairfax has finally seen the light thanks to Tysons and the Silver Line, but land around the Vienna metro station languished for decades because it was used mainly for commuter parking.

  8. re: cooking the books – rail vs road.

    I still don’t think we judge the two equally – all the time and we come down on rail much more frequently.

    and have we EVER SEEN ANY light rail project that was not claimed to be using phony numbers? Isn’t that pretty universal from the critics?

    re: sprawl

    this is a heavy cost to sprawl – that we all pay and that is transportation money that goes to deal with that – than other things.

    re: sprawl vs rail book cooking

    I think this is an example of what I am saying. TMT – you are intolerant of the rail finances but so very much tolerant of the money spent on sprawl.

    don’t you think that is a bit of a conflict in your stated values to hold rail to a higher standard and a “don’t care about sprawl”? Or can you make the case that money spent on sprawl is worth it – and in fact worth more than light rail?

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