The Puzzling World of “High Speed” Rail Costs

Puzzling is the only word to describe it.
In Richmond, proponents of “high speed” rail say that $1.6 billion federal funds would help bump passenger train speeds from about 50 m.p.h. to about 90 m.p.h. on crowded CSX track from Petersburg to Washington.
The state estimates that another route in the state — passenger train service from Petersburg to Norfolk — would cost another $262 million on the east-west coal mainline owned and operated by Norfolk Southern.
Now, the Norfolk-based railroad says that upgrading the line through peanut country would cost peanuts, namely about $75 million, or a lot less than the state estimate.

Go figure.
According to The Virginian-Pilot, state train official Chip Badger says that Norfolk Southern’s estimate does not include stations that would serve the line that roughly follows the arrow- straight farmlands along U.S. 460.
Even if that were true, one wonders why it is that Norfolk Southern seems somehow less congested than CSX., whose Acca Yard in Richmond can slow down Amtrak trains by 45 minutes.
And even if the state winds $1.6 billion from the $8 billion the Obama Administration is making available for “high speed” rail, it would like take $4 to $5 billion to make any passengers runs truly “high speed,” meaning faster than 110 m.p.h. That’s because they’d have to buy up land to seal off all grade crossings, electrify the Petersburg-D.C. route and build a new bridge over the Potomac.
NS’s estimate gives encouragement to passenger rail proponents, but it also raises a lot of questions. Just how much would improving service really cost?
Peter Galuszka

Share this article



ADVERTISEMENT

(comments below)



ADVERTISEMENT

(comments below)


Comments

100 responses to “The Puzzling World of “High Speed” Rail Costs”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    You don't want to know. If we wnat passenger service all we can do is plow blindly ahead and not ask: the answere will surely scare us off.

    And the real question, is how much will it cost, per passenger mile.

    I'll bet you can't come close to 50 cents unless you project forward a huge investment for 100 years, with huge increases in ultimate ridership.

    RH

  2. Lyle Solla-Yates Avatar
    Lyle Solla-Yates

    Interesting article, Peter. The main question in my mind is how these investments will affect ridership (income) and land values around stations (income). I suspect positively, but would love to see some actual figures. If this program is a winner, I'd like to see it in numbers.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    I dunno Lyle. Ever ride a train and look at the landscape you see? Back sides of warehouses and run down homes.

    Have you seen recent articles about citizens complaining about train horns?

    Go to Google Earth and look around the VRE tran stations.

    RH

  4. Lyle Solla-Yates Avatar
    Lyle Solla-Yates

    RH-

    I really should do a post on this topic. So yes, train tracks and train stations have amenity values (access to passenger rail, currently not as attractive as it could be) and also have nuisance values (noise, unsightly if poorly maintained, inconvenient to cross tracks). When trains first came on the scene, their amenity values were shockingly high, creating cities and fortunes very quickly. Since then, it's been a long slog down, and train-oriented construction has largely been abandoned, demolished, or re-purposed. Current owners of real estate near train stations are generally not looking for big returns, they're not building hotels and restaurants. They're generally operating surface parking to cover the property taxes, maybe the old train station has been re-used, maybe it's been demolished. If service is improved enough, the game changes and the real estate becomes worth building on. It has "ripened." So the owners make money, the new businesses make money, and the local government makes money. Not a bad little stimulus, IF you can do it for a lower cost. Portland and Perth's recent Transit Oriented Development booms are a good example of this. But the service has to be attractive enough, and the price has to be worth it.

    And also, why are the station improvements expected to cost so much? What changes at the station allow trains to move faster? Or is this to deal with more passengers?

  5. I found the following poll quite interesting:

    Q. How strongly do you agree or disagree: Expansion of public
    transportation systems, such as high-speed rail and light
    rail transit, can transform American travel and commerce,
    just as the Interstate Highway System did during the
    20th century.

    Agree Net 81%
    Disagree Net 19%

    and then this was interesting also:

    Q. How should America pay for roads and bridgesin the future? (Choose all that apply.)

    42% HOT Lanes
    37% Tolls managed by local or
    state governments
    18% Congestion Pricing
    17% Tolls managed by private
    12% Increased gas tax
    10% New user fees
    7% Other
    20 %None of the above

    http://www.hntb.com/sites/default/files/issues/SurveyFactSheet_0.pdf

    I think that 80% number is pretty impressive.

  6. No mention of Acca train yard? Isn't that the biggest delay between Richmond and D.C.? Is CSX going to play ball or not (and yes, I am a shareholder)?

    According to the Peak Oil folks, we have 2 or three years left before oil prices really spike. So in that time, while the diesel trucks can still run, we need to get infrastructure in place to survive the future.

    We can argue about the cost, but honestly, these dollars are going to be worthless soon anyway, totally devalued by the government printing presses.

  7. A 3rd rail is needed between Richmond and Washington and that's on the table but interestingly, I found out that the 3rd rail will go to 2 rails in Fredericksburg…

    the biggest cost of adding the 3rd rail is the bridges and separated grade crossings… virtually all of them will have to be upgraded.

  8. James A. Bacon Avatar
    James A. Bacon

    The promoters of high-speed rail down to Richmond want the benefits of high-speed transportation as long as (a) they don't have to make any substantive changes to land use around the station stops, (b) someone else pays for the capital cost of making the improvements, and (c) someone else pays for the ongoing operational deficits. If you can get away with all three, then, yeah, it's a great idea!

    I would be curious to know the role of the Crupi Report, developed by regional consultant Jim Crupi a couple of years back, has inspired this lobbying effort. As I recall, Crupi said that Richmond needs to take on big, bold new projects, and a high-speed rail link with Washington, D.C., and the rest of the northeast urban corridor would be a dandy idea. But he didn't offer any serious suggestions on how to pay for it.

    If the rail backers' idea is simply to lobby the Virginia Congressional delegation to get the federal government to pay for everything, they are hopelessly out of touch with today's fiscal realities. But I fear that's what Business As Usual has come to: If you want a big civic improvement, lobby Congress and cross your fingers.

    Gosh, I hope there's more to it than that. I hope our civic leaders are not that obtuse. Somebody please present me with evidence that I'm wrong.

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    MWAA is considering back-loading principal repayment on 40-year revenue bonds to pay for Dulles Rail. Interest-only mortgages worked so well in the residential market, why not try it for big transportation projects.

    Who benefits the most from high-speed rail? Should they pay the most?

    TMT

  10. at the local MPO transportation meeting.. it was related that when Fredericksburg found out that the stimulus money was ONLY for rail and not station upgrades that they were SHOCKED… SHOCKED!

    Some would call this high-speed rail on the cheap.. others would say.. you'd never get the extra rail if it was bundled with stations.

    I've not a clue as to what the potential for TOD is for HSR verses something like METRO or even commuter rail…

    I'm sure someone knows this and they probably make money off that knowledge.

  11. Hmmm…

    The government should finance high speed rail so that the 3 most prosperous areas in Virginia can connect with one another (NoVa, Richmond and Tidewater)? I gotta tell you, I am just not getting this. Is this to promote commuting or tourism?

    If Richmond is such an all-fired great place (as I constantly hear) why do people want fast trains so they can go somewhere else? I can say for a fact that nobody up here is wringing their hands over the lack of high speed rail to get to Richmond.

    DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Boston – all major urban locales. Wilmington gets a station because it happens to be on the way. Each city has at least one MLB team, at least one NFL team. These are cities folks. Richmond? Do you guys even have a AAA team anymore? Why not Charlottesville? Or Roanoke? Or Danville?

    I am sure Richmond is a great place to live. But there aren't enough people living there to justify a major capital outlay for a high speed train. Who are all these people you think will be spending 1:15 (on the train alone) to get to Union Station in DC? What are they going to do when they get here? Go to work at a federal agency? Spare me. It'll be 2 hours each way by the time you get to the train station, wait for the train, ride the train, get to Union Station and then take the Metro to your job. Fredricksburg I kind of understand, but Richmond? Or, do you guys figure we're all going to come rolling down to Short Pump to enjoy the fine dining?

    Like I said, I am sure Richmond is a great place to live and work. I am not so sure it's a great place from which to commute to DC.

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    Isn't a lot of the real esatate near the tracks actually owned by the railroads and leased out to warehousees and stuff?

    As I understand it, the railroads are mostly in the real estate business.

    Maybe this is just out west, but…

    Anybody know the answer?

    RH

  13. Anonymous Avatar

    "Current owners of real estate near train stations are generally not looking for big returns, they're not building hotels and restaurants."

    What makes you think they are not looking for big returns?

    And what makes you think hotels and restaurants provide such?

    Two of the wealthiest people I know own warehouses.

    RH

  14. Anonymous Avatar

    You will need to keep that surface parking to get the passengers in and out.

    RH

  15. Anonymous Avatar

    What does a poll have to do with whether rail can transform transportation again?

    If 81% believe that, what it telss us is that pokets are ripe for picking, not that the tranformation will ever happen.

    ——————————–

    I like none of the above, but I dooubt it will work.

    I get a little suspicious when the poll results add up to 163%

    But at least that explains why 117% of the people support tolls which they hope will be paid by someone else – probably someone in an urban area.

    RH

  16. Anonymous Avatar

    "these dollars are going to be worthless soon anyway, totally devalued by the government printing presses."

    then spend them quick on something substantial, and go borrow more right away before the inflatobomb hits.

    RH

  17. Anonymous Avatar

    "… virtually all of them will have to be upgraded."

    and usually the railroad refuses to do that because they need to keep their grade.

    Instead, they insist that the highways be raised or lowered, and that isn't their problem.

    RH

  18. Anonymous Avatar

    Jim Bacon pretty much nailed the ABC's.

    I really like riding the train, but financially it is a joke. Every time I ride someone else pays.

    If you really want high speed transit, just raise the speed limit. Cars are mostly runnig 85 or so in rural areas anyway, why not make it a hundred, and save a few billion.

    If you want trains then invent electric/magnetic bumpers for the cars such that they can hook up and discharge at will. teh cars would then electronically negotiate which cars produce how much of the power.

    Oops, that would be personal rapid transit, wouldn't it?

    RH

  19. Lyle Solla-Yates Avatar
    Lyle Solla-Yates

    RH-

    Yes, railroads are massive landholders, and last I checked they do not pay taxes on the land. And yes, especially in the early days, the big earner for railroads was real estate. And yes, warehouses can produce excellent income, but I think you'll agree that those warehouses are not there because the passenger rail is so attractive. Riders aren't sleeping in the trucks and grabbing a bite of coal on the way to the station. If passenger rail happens in a big way and ridership moves up, which climate and peak oil scientists agree is necessary, then these properties will become attractive for much more than warehouses and surface parking, which means big changes in land use, and a tidy profit.

    Larry – Very interesting survey, thanks.

    Jim – Exactly. I've been thinking that something like a Tax Increment Financing component might be the answer. The big winners if effective passenger rail happens are the land owners, the contractors, local government, and Amtrak. If experiences in Charlottesville are true elsewhere, the contractors will be joyful to give the government a deal: they're hungry. I'm not expecting much extra fat there. Amtrak's government owned, they'll pass on the money or reinvest it in service. The owners are interesting, and I would expect that they are major backers of the push for better rail. They get big money if rail gets better, but I don't know how realistic their hopes of a massive federal handout are. If rail proponents offer some level of matching money, that makes the chances a whole lot better. We've got Larry's idea of targeting revenue from some new HOT lane projects. I think it might work. There's a clear nexus between improving existing road capacity with pricing and expanding rail capacity. But I think it may also be effective to draw a Tax Increment Financing district around each station and dedicate some of that local tax increment that only comes if the rail comes, to paying debt financing on building the rail. I think that's a dynamite package, and I think it would win in Washington. This doesn't represent any added burden on the owners at all and represents a very small sacrifice for local government, since the boom wouldn't come without the rail anyway.

  20. Anonymous Avatar

    Peak Oil Scientist?

    Global Warming Scientist?

    What is that, like a Woman's Right to Choose Scientist or Legalize Marijana Scientist?

    Anyway, what could they possibly know what is necessary for high speed rail? They should stick totheir specialties.

    Or become Scientists and seek the truth without prefixes.

    ———————————

    Better plan on keeping that surface parking or building parking garages: all the major train stations have them, as do airports, etc. Metro, remember is the single largest provider of parking in the region.

    What high speed rail neds is lots of money, frequent and relible service, and lots of passengers.

    When I was working on the commuter airline project we figured we might get 20,000 passengers a year out of Richmond – after three years of service to build the clientele. That works out to average six passengers per flight, and we needed four to break even on a twelve passenger plane.

    I don't think you need a train to carry 6 passengers. I don't even think you can run the train as cheap as we could fly.

    Figure the trip presently takes two hours on the bus and costs $15.
    If you think your time is worth $40 an hour a high speed train would be worth $55.

    At present the train takes 3 hours and costs $29, so its euivalent cost to the bus is $109.

    If you buy the argument that cars don't pay anywhere near their real costs, then neither does the bus so that fare must bs subsidised 100%, full cost is then $30.

    But the train is subsidised about 60% (more depending on who you ask) so its cost is $59 plus $80 or $139.

    We could fly you for $75, but we need a subsidy for the first three years, so call it $90 minus $40 for the time savings, or $50.

    France's high speed train cost $4 million a mile, but we don't even have ambitions for anything like that. And that's just initial cost, not maintenance.

    Spain is spending $130 billion on the AVE system. The plan is to have 90$ of th epopulation within 30 miles of an AVE station by 2030. Better plan on suface parking.

    But Spain ffers an answer to Groveton's humorous critique. Ciudad Real is 130 miles from Madrid (50 minutes on AVE). It was a dying city, by passed bythe highway but now it is coming to life. The fare is $48. Lord knows what the subsidy is. An efficient commuter plan could do it for $75, no subsidy.

    Likewise the first link, from Madrid to Seville (not a large city) was a much bigger success than anticipated.

    Anyone want to hazard a guess as to what it would cost to put 90$ of US citizens within 30 miles of a high speed rail? Spain is a desert country, so most people do live in the cities.

    Look, I love the train idea, but let's be realistic.

    RH

  21. Anonymous Avatar

    "We've got Larry's idea of targeting revenue from some new HOT lane projects. "

    ——————————

    That's because cars don't pay their own way, right?

    The HOT lane revenues are paying for the HOT lanes (and the operators profits). I wouldn't count on using that money twice.

    Thats like making the Carbon tax revenue neutral AND using the revenue to fund renewable sources.

    Cmon Guys, really.

    RH

  22. Anonymous Avatar

    "There's a clear nexus between improving existing road capacity with pricing and expanding rail capacity. "

    I'm sorry, you lost me.

    You put pricing on the roads to reduce demand, not improve capacity. You could spend the money you raise improving capscity, but then you wouldn't be able to charge as much, because the demand would be met.

    How do you get from pricing roads to paying for expanded rail? Aren't the road fares supposed to be USER FEES and not TAXES?

    Eeesh.

    RH

  23. The idea of using tolls on roads to fund rail in terms of acceptance of the concept might be a debatable point but I suspect there is support.

    More and more folks who actually drive on urbanized roads like NoVa know that building more roads…adding capacity ..is not going to be a solution.

    They can see, for instance, that potential right-of-way for is very limited and expensive and quite a few realize what the EPA's designation of non-attainment means even if right-of-way and funding were more available.

    ( the reason the poll added up to more than 100% Ray is that the question said to check all that apply).

    I think more and more people are considering rail to be like public education and they don't view the money spent on public education as a "subsidy" but a necessary investment.

    I find it ironic that Ray is just fine with some kinds of subsidies like home mortgage deductions, crop subsidies, etc but less than fine with others.

    I guess it all depends on what one thinks deserves a subsidy or not.

  24. Gooze Views Avatar
    Gooze Views

    Jim Bacon,
    I wouldn't overestimate the importance of the Crupi report on Richmond's economic future. Here's why:
    (1) Every rent-a-consultant always pushes some form of rail, regardless of type.
    (2) The reason for the flurry of interest is the Obama Admininstration offer of $8 billion, maybe up to $13 billion, for "high speed" rail corridors.
    (3) The WSJ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125201220447984485.html
    notes that the regions considered the best contenders for funding are California, Illinois and Florida. Virgnia didn't get a mention, despite all the local hub bub and I seriously doubt that all those places paid for Crupi reports.

    In sum, everyone is after this bhecause federal money is suddenly available for it. It is a marked change since many presidents, notably Nixon and George "W", tried to kill off Amtrak, which has never gotten the support it has needed to do its job.

    You can whine about federal deficit spending all you want to, but the fact is that big, true "high speed" rail projectsin Japan, France and Germany all get significant state funding, which isn't considered some kind of moral stain as it is here.

    Peter Galuszka

  25. Anonymous Avatar

    The Beltway HOT lanes will provide some benefits to NoVA and Fairfax County. We will get additional capacity on the Beltway that would not otherwise be constructed. The HOT lanes will get some SOV traffic off the Beltway as the lanes will be free for HOV 3 and van pools. And, for the first time, we can have bus service on the Beltway. Buses can travel the HOT lanes that will maintain a reasonable speed. Buses will not work on the Beltway except during times when no one needs to travel.

    Even if high-speed rail can be built with the fed's Monopoly money, what about the operating costs? Who will pay them? Most people don't think the market will bear cost-covering ticket prices.

    If we can't or won't fund many of the programs we have now, why expand and create more unfunded programs?

    TMT

  26. re: who will pay operational expenses?

    the same sources that now pay – the gas tax… 3 cents of the Fed Gas tax is dedicated to transit as well as the additional 2% for VRE.

    and HOT Lanes.. are projected to subsidize services like VRE.

    I think there is support for using gas tax for rail.

    Not sure I've seen an actual poll but most folks accept that we cannot build our way out of congestion and they're aware of widespread use of rail in other countries.

    and I don't think they view taxes for rail as a subsidy any more than they view taxes for schools as a subsidy.

  27. Oh I do love it when someone brings up Portland. Lyle, have ever LIVED there? Not just passing through, not just a visit, but actually putting down roots for 6 months or more?

    I can assure you that the TOD is a joke. The authorities declare it a success, but did you really expect them to say anything else?

    The light rail itself is unsustaining, it is propped up by a tri-county tax on businesses regardless of how close ANY form of mass transit comes near their business. As a result businesses who are more than 10 miles from the nearest bus or light rail pay a tax to support and prop up the light rail (and mass transit in general).

    The TOD's are an unmitigated joke. With one or two exceptions the vast majority of them don't sell unless tax abatements and subsidies abound. Even then, they don't sell well. Many of the 'smart growth' TOD's turned into rentals; which was not what they were originally envisioned to be. Many of the 'mixed use' building now have residents, people using the spaces that were originally designed to be an office or whatever have hastily (and not necessarily legally) been changed into living spaces.

    No Lyle – the urban planners idyllic 'utopia' hasn't worked as planned despite all the BS that the city officials push. The light rail only runs at capacity during the morning and evening rush hours, the rest of the time criminals run a muck.

    As such the entire scenario has made Portland a very, very expensive place to live compared to what it cost to live there 10 or 20 years ago (on the scale of 200 – 300% more).

    Sorry Lyle, Portland is NOT a good example. Unless you are dyed-in-the-wool 'smart growth' fanatic, a few months in Portland show what a spectacular failure light rail and TOD's really are.

  28. Accurate – I'm also a bit of a skeptic with regard to TOD though a successful version of it exists on the METRO system in Washington.

    As far as paying for them.

    I think most systems in the world do not operate on fare box alone but many places view tax-provided transit the same way they do schools, or parks, or law enforcement, etc.

    We don't say that public safety is "subsidized" right?

    or public libraries or public water or sewer systems right?

    For all services and facilities that are paid for with taxes, what in your mind is the criteria for calling some of them subsidized and others not?

  29. After asking Accurate the question about subsidies I got curious about farebox Recover and got this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farebox_recovery_ratio#cite_note-railway_age-11

    the first thing to notice is the WILD variations… from 9% (yes, that's right in Austin, Tx) to 170% (yes that's right in Tokyo)

    so I got to wondering why folks in Tokyo would pay that much for a ride on a sardine machine and here's the answer:

    average gasoline price = $5.19.

    then you look at Europe…$5.00+ a gallon!!

    I wonder what ridership would be in this country if gasoline were $5 a gallon?

    We sort of know.

    When it went to $4, the METRO in Washington was thronged as well as VRE commuter rail.

  30. Anonymous Avatar

    "…and HOT Lanes.. are projected to subsidize services like VRE."

    Even though the tolls were sold as "user fees". As soon as you diver that money, it becomes a tax, for certain.

    Governments can't seem to keep their promises, what else is new?

    RH

  31. Anonymous Avatar

    "I find it ironic that Ray is just fine with some kinds of subsidies like home mortgage deductions, crop subsidies, etc but less than fine with others."

    My criteria for subsidies is always the same: does it provide a net benefit and are the losers adequately compensated.

    We used to spend a third of our income for food, now it is half of that, or less. We can do away with crop subsidies, but it may cost us on our food bill more than we save in taxes.

    Rails does not appear to meet the criteria, much as I like rail, I still think it is fiscal stupidity.

    RH

  32. Anonymous Avatar

    "…know that building more roads…adding capacity ..is not going to be a solution."

    I agree, I know that. so why is adding rail capacity a solution and adding auto capacity is not? If you add rail capacity without solving the problem that caused the need for it, then you eventually reach the same problem with rail that you have with cars: too much demand and no way to expand.

    Metro faces that problem already. They can't do their maintenance, let alone expand. Same as VDOT.

    Adding capacity is not the solution, yet HOT lanes are designed to reduce demand through pricing AND provide additional capacity.

    But, we have plenty of unused road capacity, so the thing to do is reduce demand on the overused portions by moving it to the underused portions.

    Solve the root cause of the problem is what I was taught. But adding rail adds another level of transportation that not only HAS the same root problem, it REQUIRES the same root problem in order to exist.

    We just don't recognize excessive density as a subsidy to rail – yet.

    RH

  33. Anonymous Avatar

    "..most folks accept that we cannot build our way out of congestion .."

    Most folks don't think very hard and they accept such canned platitudes out of mental laziness.

    If you cannot build your way out of congestion with roads, what makes you think you can do it with rail?

    And while congestion increases pretty much everywhere, those places that build aggressively increase congestion more slowly. That's what the Texas Transportation Study has said for years now.

    It hasn't yet sunk in to those that accept the platitudes, that what little measured evidence we have points in the opposite direction.

    RH

  34. well someone said.. just how much tax is charged on gasoline in places like Europe.

    glad you asked.

    here's some examples:
    (prices per liter as of Sept 13)

    TAX GAS
    Belgium 1,29 (0,49 )
    Bulgaria 0,96 (0,44 )
    Cyprus 0,97 (0,53 )
    Czech Rep. 1,11 (0,50 )
    Denmark 1,32 (0,52 )
    Estonia 1,00 (0,45 )
    Finland 1,33 (0,50 )
    France 1,24 (0,46 )
    Germany 1,31 (0,47 )
    Greece 1,15 (0,51 )

    so multiply by 4 to get dollars
    per gallon

    so the Europeans pay about

    $2.00 a gallon for the gasoline

    and another $4.00 a gallon for taxes

    http://www.energy.eu/#prices

    So now we know why Europeans ride rail and we also know how they fund rail.

    in this country.. we pay in most states around 35-55 cents per gallon tax. 3 cents of the Fed tax is dedicated to transit/rail.

    these guys tax the wazoo out of gasoline and still have relatively strong economies and they also spend for health care and still have respectable GDPs and in general no worse debt that we do.

    They use 1/2 the gasoline and 1/2 the electricity.

    they live longer than we do and less infant mortality and no one gets denied health insurance even for pre-existing conditions nor do they lose their coverage because they change jobs or work for small business.

    and external debt?

    Rank Country Debt(Billion US$)

    1 United States 12,250
    2 United Kingdom 10,450
    3 Germany 4,489
    4 France 4,396
    5 Italy 2,345
    6 Netherlands 2,277
    7 Spain 2,047

    Ok, say the UK looked foobar but the rest don't look too bad compared to us.

    so tell me again why we don't want to be more like them?

  35. Anonymous Avatar

    "…Ray is just fine with some kinds of subsidies …"

    Well, if you had a free and fair market, you would not need subsidies.

    The way to approach a free and fair market is to have mroe kinds of property amd more stable property rights.

    Subsidies, in the final analysis, are an assault on someone's property rights: an attempt to modify them.That is why subsidies are so reviled: we see them as money out of our pocket to help someone else that we otherwise would not be doing business with.

    Subsidies are how the government interferes withthe free market and assaults property rights it is supposed to protect.

    But the justification is that the property rights were not correct to begin with, so governmet is justified in making corrections.

    A better way would be to just make the corrections, by buying the property rights and then redistributing them.

    RH

  36. Anonymous Avatar

    I suspect there is support, too, from those that support rail and can't figure any other way to pay for it but take money from their archrivals.

    But if they win this battle and tax cars out of existence, THEN who pays for rail.

    If we are goiing to tax cars to pay for rail, then can we at least stop arguing that cars don't pay their own way?

    RH

  37. Anonymous Avatar

    "and another $4.00 a gallon for taxes"

    Yes, and those taxes go to the General fund, not the transportaion fund.

    When you pay gas tax in Europe it supports all the benefits you get back.

    Now, you buy gas when you need to go out and conduct some kind of commerce. You are either buying or selling something. Our gas tax revenues are down because the economy is bad.

    But in Europe, they have done us one better.

    They extract very high taxes from those engaged in commerce. The money goes into the general fund where it is used to support those who are NOT engaged in commerce: unemploed, retired, extensive vacation, the sick —- you name it.

    That way they can tax the wealthy without making it appear that way.

    RH

  38. Anonymous Avatar

    "and still have relatively strong economies and they also spend for health care and still have respectable GDPs and in general no worse debt that we do."

    This is simply wrong, and you know it.

    —————————–

    "They use 1/2 the gasoline and 1/2 the electricity."

    And yet you are going to try to tell us they enjoy the same standard of living?

    ———————————-

    European states have spent roughly equal amounts on rail and roads, and yet roads still carry better than 80% of the traffic.

    If rail is all that great, why isn't it carrying an equal amount of traffic for equal investment?

    The only conclusion you can reach from studying the European experiment is that rail DOES NOT provide the same net public benefit.

    Especially sice it is largely paid for with revenue from cars.

    RH

  39. Anonymous Avatar

    "Rank Country Debt(Billion US$)

    1 United States 12,250
    2 United Kingdom 10,450
    3 Germany 4,489
    4 France 4,396
    5 Italy 2,345
    6 Netherlands 2,277
    7 Spain 2,047"

    Oh come on, Larry.

    At least wight the debt according to abilty to pay (GDP).

    And how much of our debt has been spent defending ther countries?

    RH

  40. Anonymous Avatar

    I wonder what ridership would be in this country if gasoline were $5 a gallon?

    We sort of know.

    When it went to $4, the METRO in Washington was thronged as well as VRE commuter rail.

    ————————–

    Sort of 3% of a question isn't it?

    It is no surprise that ridership went up, where it was avaialable and subsiesd by auto drivers: the cost benefit ratio changed.

    But what happened to the 97% that did not have that option? Did their rail ridership go up?

    It is just too bad that the gas tax is per gallon instead of per dollar. (anyone know if European fuel taxesare per gallon or per currency?)

    Instead of VDOT experiencing a decline in revenue, it would have spiked, just when they needed it most.

    RH

  41. Anonymous Avatar

    "The HOT lanes will get some SOV traffic off the Beltway as the lanes will be free for HOV 3 and van pools."

    Complete and utter nonsense.

    We already have lanes available for car pools, and they are underused. That is one reason we are going to HOT lanes: to get more use out of them. All the SOV traffic that is going to convert to car pools aready has.

    To suggest that HOT lanes will somehow produce MORE carpool trraffic is patently crazy.

    In fact, the prediction is that some carpools will disband and simply pay the toll, so you willhave MORE SOV traffic as a result of HOT lanes.

    RH

  42. Anonymous Avatar

    so I got to wondering why folks in Tokyo would pay that much for a ride on a sardine machine and here's the answer:

    You can't build your way out of congestion.

    RH

  43. " But if they win this battle and tax cars out of existence, THEN who pays for rail."

    name a place that has done that or even come close.

    do you see a shortage of cars in Europe or Japan or any other nation that heavily taxes gasoline?

  44. " If we are goiing to tax cars to pay for rail, then can we at least stop arguing that cars don't pay their own way?"

    do schools or libraries or prisons "pay their own way"?

  45. " If you cannot build your way out of congestion with roads, what makes you think you can do it with rail?"

    because it "works"?

    want to try to move people at the airports with SOV aircraft instead of airliners?

    you still get the congestion but you can move a heck of a lot more people with multi-passenger vehicles than solo vehicles especially at rush hour.

    How do people get around when the beltway is shut down for an accident or weather?

    "And while congestion increases pretty much everywhere, those places that build aggressively increase congestion more slowly. That's what the Texas Transportation Study has said for years now."

    you want to "build aggressively" in the Washington area?

    what would you propose to use for money and how would you do away with the EPA non-attainment area?

    Do the TTI tell you how to do that?

  46. " The only conclusion you can reach from studying the European experiment is that rail DOES NOT provide the same net public benefit."

    in whose opinion?

    don't you think that if Europeans did not believe it was a good benefit that it would go away?

    how do you determine the public benefit of something like schools or anything paid for with taxes that "don't pay for themselves"?

  47. " And how much of our debt has been spent defending ther countries?"

    oh.. you must mean defending our "interests" in the Middle East – right?

    Would you call that a subsidy for gasoline?

    See the Europeans put a heft tax on it so the guys in the middle east don't have them by the short hairs and thus require a huge army to "defend" their need for oil.

    whereas in this country with it's more "enlightened" approach, we spend on our military more than all the other military's in the industrialized world to "defend" our "right" to "cheap" oil.

    yup.. we sure are smart

  48. " It is just too bad that the gas tax is per gallon instead of per dollar. (anyone know if European fuel taxesare per gallon or per currency?)"

    The VRE tax is 2% of the purchase price – smart guys huh?

    "Instead of VDOT experiencing a decline in revenue, it would have spiked, just when they needed it most."

    if they did do you think they could "aggressively" build NoVa out of their congestion?

    Many states have their gas tax indexed but they're not much better off than VDOT because cars are more and more efficient and the gas tax the way we do it only "works" when fuel is cheap and cars get crappy mileage.

    the only way to fix this is to put the tax higher than the cost of the gasoline but even if you did that – more roads are not going to help in areas like NoVa because there simply is not enough available right of way without having to buy super-expensive already developed land which also generates tax revenue.

    And even if you had enough money, how would you convince the EPA to remove the non-attainment designation?

  49. " To suggest that HOT lanes will somehow produce MORE carpool trraffic is patently crazy."

    if NoVa GROWS… i.e. more jobs and more cars.. then where are you going to put those cars?

    HOT lanes are still a bit on the "experimental" side but so far, the ones that have been built – perform as advertised.

    HOT lanes are the best solution in the existing realities.

    no one has come up with a VIABLE alternative other than the crackpots who don't consider things like funding and non-attainment as real impediments.

    The Washington Beltway is 64 miles long.

    The ICC underway in Md is costing 113 million dollars per mile.

    I get more than 7 billion dollars to build the equivalent of another beltway.

    where would you get that money?

    The I-495 HOT Lanes will add 2 lanes for 14 miles for about 1.5 billion dollars.

    they're going to get that money from tolls which is about the only way to fund road expansions of this type.

    One penny on the gas tax – statewide in Va will generate 80 million. Do the math.

    and no one outside of NoVa is going to agree to a gas tax increase to pay for more NoVa roads.

  50. " Complete and utter nonsense."

    The folks who operate the Dulles Greenway would disagree with you based on their experience of charging tolls… seems to work.

    the fall-back from HOT Lanes would be what? TOLL Lanes for everyone?

  51. Anonymous Avatar

    if NoVa GROWS… i.e. more jobs and more cars.. then where are you going to put those cars?

    You are not, unless you start tearing down other stuff to build roads. NOVA will have to grow someplace else.

    ——————————-

    Any way you raise the money for roads and or VRE has a gas tax equivalent: ten cents a mile is equal to a gas tax of roughly $2.50 a gallon.

    Now, if yu want to charge ten cents a mile everywhere, thats fine with me, but if VDOT wants to charge ten cents a mile to some Virginians and not others, then I have a problem.

    RH

  52. Anonymous Avatar

    "..the fall-back from HOT Lanes would be what? TOLL Lanes for everyone?"

    Yes. Exactly as I suggested, toll everyone else and then PAY people to use the HOV lanes. The reason the HOV lanes were never fully utilized is that it costs too much to operate a car pool.

    There are plans in the works now to do exactly that: pay people to operate car pools.

    If we got serious about it, then it would be far more economical and far mor flexible than paying people to operate behemoth buses.

    Yu laughed at my idea of paying people to operate car pools, but now that is exactly what is happening.

    RH

    RH

  53. Anonymous Avatar

    "…they're going to get that money from tolls which is about the only way to fund road expansions of this type."

    It is the only way if you insist on pegging the gas tax to the gallon instead of the dollar.

    It is the only way if you refuse to raise the gas tax for thirty years.

    And I guarantee that the tolls will turn out to cost a lot more per gallon than the politically unacceptable 2 cent increase in the gas tax.

    The only reason that tolls are the only way that is politically acceptable is because everyone asumes someone else will have to pay the tolls.

    This is exactly as stupid as three thousand jusrisdictions having some kind of growth control.

    It is the "make it go away" solution to problem solving.

    Tolls are another new tax and another level of aggravation, and another bureaucracy that we do not need. Tolls are a step backward to a systemwe once had and dismantled.

    RH

  54. Anonymous Avatar

    The VRE tax is 2% of the purchase price – smart guys huh?

    Smarter than VDOT anyway. Maybe we should switch management.

    Oh yeah, and it is 2% of the gas price for everyone in the county, whether they ride VRE or not.

    Which is the same reason the gas tax is a better idea than tolls.

    RH

  55. Anonymous Avatar

    "…name a place that has done that or even come close.

    do you see a shortage of cars in Europe or Japan or any other nation that heavily taxes gasoline?"

    Remember that in those paces the gas tax goes to the general fund not a transportation fund, so we are not talking apples to apples.

    Even so, your argument proves my point: cars do so much more than trains that people exhibit considerable price elasticity concerning ther use. And yet, you claim the gas tax is politiclly unacceptable.

    I'll bet it would be a lot less politically unacceptable if the gas tax went to the general fund, because it would then become yet another way for ROVA to get a free ride on NOVA.

    Europe has spent roughly equal amounts on rail and roadways, but roadways carry more than 80% of all trips.

    So you tell me, which expenditure bought you more transportation for the money?

    Roads did, obviously.

    But that's because auto drivers pick up much of the road transportation expense that has to be paid for by rail systems. Drivers pay more of their own full costs, and nw they are going to pay for rail costs as well.

  56. Anonymous Avatar

    "..and no one outside of NoVa is going to agree to a gas tax increase to pay for more NoVa roads."

    That's fine for now. Lets suppose that tolls become the de rigeur method of road payment.

    After a while ROVA is going to need repairs and improvements. But the equivalent toll for rural roads is going to have to be a LOT higher than for urban roads.

    I can hear the rebel yells now.

    RH

  57. Anonymous Avatar

    "…there simply is not enough available right of way without having to buy super-expensive already developed land which also generates tax revenue."

    Well you are not going to move those peole with trains either.

    But what I hear you saying is that the gas tax isn't the only way we pay for roads. Which is what I said long ago: it is a futilemisrepresentation to say that gas taxes don't and can't pay for road construction and maintenance.

    And then of course there is the irony in simultaneously arguing that we need to stop road construction because it just leads to big profits for developers, and ti leads to development; an the turn around and complain that we cannot tear down development because it pays taxes.

    Which is it, Larry?

    RH

  58. Anonymous Avatar

    "We don't say that public safety is "subsidized" right?"

    And why is that?

    Because we recognize that we are paying for the OPPORTUNITY to call for police or fire if we need it.

    We paid for roads the same way for decades: youpaid for the OPPORTUNITY to go somewhere.

    But then some idiot came up with the idea we should pay for actual use, and you can see how popular that is when someone suggests it for fire or ambulance.

    RH

  59. Anonymous Avatar

    EPA's designation of non-attainment means we are not going to be able to build any more urban roads anyway.

    That isn't going to solve the non-attainment problem: especially if you build more density to support trains. Housing causesa third of all our emissions.

    RH

  60. Anonymous Avatar

    "The folks who operate the Dulles Greenway would disagree with you based on their experience of charging tolls… seems to work."

    The Dulles Greenway went broke.

    RH

  61. " You are not, unless you start tearing down other stuff to build roads. NOVA will have to grow someplace else."

    you'll have to convince the Fed govt to go elsewhere.

    " VDOT wants to charge ten cents a mile to some Virginians and not others, then I have a problem"

    not VDOT guy, the GA and no one in RoVa is going to sign on to a 10 cent tax – the proceeds of which will go to NoVa.

    what part of this do you not get?

    the only way you get a gas tax increase in Va is if a majority of the GA House agrees and that means you got to get at least some RoVa support for it.

  62. " toll everyone else and then PAY people to use the HOV lanes. The reason the HOV lanes were never fully utilized is that it costs too much to operate a car pool."

    Well.. I do give you credit for a different method.

    Van/Bus Pools are already subsidized and there are plans to increase that subsidy.

    I don't understand your opposition to buses.

    A bus is about 50 feet long and is equivalent to about 4 cars.

    It holds the equivalent of 40 cars of people.

    So every bus takes more than 30 cars off the road.

    why is this not good?

    I support slugging also… and facilities for slugging.. how did I laugh at you?

  63. pegging to gas tax to the dollar.

    I'm not opposed to this but I've not seen data to show how this works.

    have you got some data?

    re: tolls and taxes

    well you're right. The folks in RoVa think they won't pay tolls.

    but I think they are right.

    they might pay them occasionally but not twice a day like NoVa commuters will.

    Congestion Pricing "works" Ray.

    you can regulate the solo users of HOT lanes by increasing the tolls sufficient to keep their numbers from getting too high.

    Congestion on the mainlines will encourage those folks to jump to the HOT Lanes and they can either travel free by not driving solo or pay out the wazoo to drive solo.

    Either way.. it reduces cars on the mainline and you get a source of money .

    your idea of charging everyone is dead in the water.

    Fed law prohibits tolls on roads paid for by Fed gas tax money.

    and from a political point of view – charging tolls on the mainline would be a disaster.

  64. re: gas tax

    you've got this HUGE BLIND SPOT

    neither VDOT nor VRE make these decisions.

    If you want these things changed, you have to convince the good people of Appomattox, Smyth and Roanoke, etc, et al.

    unless you once again want to advocate that we switch to a benevolent dictator form of government.

  65. " Even so, your argument proves my point: cars do so much more than trains that people exhibit considerable price elasticity concerning ther use. And yet, you claim the gas tax is politiclly unacceptable."

    nice try but you said that raising the tax on cars would kill cars – and it has not in Europe where they have raised gax taxes more than 10 times higher than here and cars are still just fine.

    so you were wrong again as usual.

    cars do not pay their own way.

    If they did, VDOT would not be broke right now.

  66. " After a while ROVA is going to need repairs and improvements. But the equivalent toll for rural roads is going to have to be a LOT higher than for urban roads."

    RoVa pays 18 cents a gallon for road maintenance.

    If it's not enough, they can pay more for property taxes to do it like they do in 46 other states.

    that would be a better deal that paying a higher gas tax and it goes to NoVa.

    These folks are not stupid Ray.

    but let's assume they are.

    RoVa comprises such a small number of people and cars compared to NoVa that taxing them is not going to generate near enough money for the needs of NoVa anyhow.

  67. " Well you are not going to move those peole with trains either."

    you'r wrong as usual.

    Trains don't need the amount of right-of-way that you need to move cars.

    Much of it already exists and much of it goes through areas that are not high-dollar commercial real estate anyhow.

  68. " And then of course there is the irony in simultaneously arguing that we need to stop road construction because it just leads to big profits for developers, and ti leads to development; an the turn around and complain that we cannot tear down development because it pays taxes."

    never made that argument – ever.

    I have said consistently that the folks that use the roads need to pay for them.

    and when I say "use" I distinguish between a two-lane that has 10 cars an hour on it verses a 12-lane with 100K cars on it twice a day and the costs to maintain it by doing maintenance work at night and to expand it by buying high-dollar commercial…

    that cost belongs to the people who drive that road – not others.

    the problem with a statewide gas tax that goes to Richmond is that – that allows the development community to argue that that money should go for new roads to serve commuters going to new homes in exurban NoVa.. so they, in effect, scoop up the RoVA money.

    It's that process that has run VDOT broke.

    The process of having a slush fund administered by unelected folks who determine "needs".

    That's what the Western Transportation Corridor was all about.

    Here's the difference.

    The Dulles Toll Road – funded by the people who "need" it got built.

    The WTC funded by gas taxes did not.

  69. " "We don't say that public safety is "subsidized" right?"

    And why is that?

    Because we recognize that we are paying for the OPPORTUNITY to call for police or fire if we need it."

    and that same idea does not work for rail?

  70. " That isn't going to solve the non-attainment problem: especially if you build more density to support trains. Housing causesa third of all our emissions"

    Then you clearly do not understand non-attainment.

    it includes ALL sources.

  71. The Dulles Greenway went broke.

    really? did they close it?

    nope.. looks like they are alive and well..

    gee..look at this Ray:

    Myth – the Commonwealth of Virginia condemned the land that was used to build the Dulles Greenway.

    Fact – TRIP II purchased all the land that the Greenway is situated on from the original owners at market price.

    http://dullesgreenway.com/facts-myths.html

    this is what I've been telling you.

    this is the right way to build roads.

    You don't need RoVa and you don't need VDOT.

  72. Anonymous Avatar

    "While there is no single indicator that can capture something as complex as our society, the metrics commonly used, such as gross domestic product, suggest a trade-off: one can improve the environment only by sacrificing growth. But if we had a comprehensive measure of well-being, perhaps we would see this as a false choice. Such a metric might indicate an increase in wellbeing as the environment improved, even if conventionally measured output went down.

    This was one of several motivations for Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France, when he established the International Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress , which I chaired and for which Amartya Sen served as adviser and Professor Jean-Paul Fitoussi of the Institut d’Etudes Politiques served as co-ordinator, and whose final report is issued on Monday.

    National income statistics such as GDP and gross national product were originally intended as a measure of market economic activity, including the public sector. But they have increasingly been thought of as measures of societal well-being, which they are not. Of course, good statisticians have warned against this error. Much economic activity occurs within the home – and this can contribute to individual well-being as much as, or more than, market production."

    Joseph Stiglitz.

    So, there you have it. Someone besides RH is agitating for better metrics of societal well being: things we can actually measure, agree on, and trade.

    I hope we get them in place before we speand a gazillion dollars on trains jsut because we like to think they are a good thing.

    RH

  73. Anonymous Avatar

    "The Dulles Greenway went broke.

    really? did they close it?"

    They went broke and the original investors and lenders took a bath. The debt was restuctured by the court and now the new owners can make a profit. But this profit is based on new, imaginary costs which are far less than what it took to build the greenway and keep it open until the present traffic load developed.

    It was the same problem as my airline project had. We could project profitability, but it took years to develop, so it needed subsidies to get "off the ground."

    The Greenway subsidies came in bankruptcy court. This is very similar to what happened to the (now) profitable and privately owned Japanese Shinkasu: the original companies went broke.

    Now, the greenway is successful, if you ignore the history, and if you don;t mind all the development that took place to make it successful. And if you don't mind having its only competitor permanently hobbled. There is a reason the traffic lights on Rte 7 never got synchronized.

    But the Greenway, so far as I know, is not contributing to rail construction: the onwer keep the revenue, and they need to, because the deal is still razor thin.

    If you think the Greenway is a success,then you ought to LOVE the current home foreclosure market, because it works the same way.

    RH

  74. Anonymous Avatar

    "Then you clearly do not understand non-attainment.

    it includes ALL sources."

    —————————-

    Precisely what I said.

    If you have a non-attainment area you clearly are not going to build more roads. And if it is still a non-attainment area you won't build more houses or other structures, or busineses either, because they represent over a third of pollution sources. And then you won't need that expensive rail system, either, even IF EPA will let you build it. (Ever see the lovely run-off controls the railways have?)

    You are going to have to go find someplace else to grow: someplace that isn't in non-attainment and hasn't already eneacted anti-growth ordinances.

    Or, we can stop growing. All we have to do is invent a steady state economy.

    RH

  75. Anonymous Avatar

    "The Dulles Toll Road – funded by the people who "need" it got built.

    The WTC funded by gas taxes did not."

    The Dulles toll road is also funding the Metro Extension, whicyh could eqully be funded by the people who "need it".

    What you are describing is the political reality as it stnds today. It says NOTHING about whther the tollroad funding plan meets the criteria of being a net social benefit in which the losers are adequately compensated by the winners.

    RH

  76. Anonymous Avatar

    "…and that same idea does not work for rail?"

    I love it when your arguments commit suicide.

    If it works for Public safety and rail, the why not for roads? Why do THEY get a different criteria, a different burden of proof?

    Because we have had a chorus of self-procalimed angels singing the litany of "development does not pay, roads do not pay, everyone is our debtor", for decades. This religion has become the opiate of the masses who can no longer distiquish their drug induced dreams from reality.

    RH

  77. Anonymous Avatar

    Don't confuse me with an apolgist or promoter of the automotive slums we have come to live in: I am not.

    I'd like to see it fixed as much as the next guy. I just don't think truly stupid ideas are the right way to go about it.

    RH

  78. Anonymous Avatar

    Lets consider some efforts actually being made to measure how our efforts improve our well being.

    "Researchers are visiting the homes of hundreds of Seattle volunteers to affix electronic tags on about 10 to 15 pieces of their household trash, such as pizza boxes, Styrofoam cups, slippers and scrap metal. The volunteers will dispose of the item as they normally would.

    The battery-operated smart tags rely on cell phone technology to send information back to MIT computers, allowing researchers – and the public – to monitor the trash in real-time as it moves through the waste stream to its final destination.

    The public will be able to follow the trash migration at an exhibit that opens at Seattle's Central Library Sept. 18. "

    ————————

    Now, I think that is really cool. We do that enough times, we might learn something about how to deal withour trash, both effectively, safely, and economically.

    RH

  79. Ray – you can have advocacy for better metrics… and you can say the ones we have are not sufficient but if you want them to change – YOU have to put forward a credible alternative.

    Blog Blather is not that.

  80. who paid the subsidies for the Greenway to make it successful?

  81. the non-attainment does not prohibit more houses Ray.

    it prohibits industry that passes thresholds.

    your claim that houses contribute needs a cite

    I think there are probably multiple sources within a house and if there was going to be regulation it would be in the form of energy and emission standards.

    For instance, in some non-attainment areas – you still allow houses but not open fireplaces.

    do you have something to show that no more houses can be built in NoVa?

  82. " What you are describing is the political reality as it stnds today. It says NOTHING about whther the tollroad funding plan meets the criteria of being a net social benefit in which the losers are adequately compensated by the winners."

    what it says is that you are not going to build a WTC with gas money.

    That's a political reality.

    your idea of winners and losers is your idea.. no one else buys it at all… least of all the folks whom you would charge gas taxes for a WTC.

    I ask you for solutions that can go forward and what you give is totally off the wall ideas that no one will accept.

  83. " If it works for Public safety and rail, the why not for roads? Why do THEY get a different criteria, a different burden of proof?"

    The criteria is what people will support – politically.

    That's what I'm telling you.

    People support taxes and road tolls for transit/high speed rail and they do not support taxes for roads.

    you obviously do not agree but you can't seem to accept the political realities.

  84. smart tag trash tracking..

    yes cool!

    what's the societal benefit?

    should we stop packaging pizzas in boxes?

    you're the guy who is also asking that question so I'll let you answer.

  85. re: " If it works for Public safety and rail, the why not for roads? Why do THEY get a different criteria, a different burden of proof?"

    the criteria for virtually everything besides roads is NOT that they must pay for their function.

    Schools do not "have to pay for themselves"

    The Police/Sheriffs do not "have to pay for themselves"

    DEQ does not "have to pay for itself".

    How do we decide?

    It's pretty simple.

    Every year the General Assembly and the US Congress get together to decide how to fund things that "do not pay for themselves".

    For instance, right now, every 3 cents of the Federal Gas tax goes to transit – which "does not pay for itself".

    who decided that? Your elected representatives did – that's who.

    Who decided to give the public schools in Virginia about 10K per student even though they do not "pay for themselves" – your elected representatives did.

    Now.. if your elected representatives decide to fund HIgh Speed Rail.. they would do so under the same premise that they fund other things that "do not pay for themselves".

    right?

    see… all the answers go back to what the public will agree to or not.

    we have no benevolent dictator who will decide.

    If people want to pay taxes for High Speed Rail.. I suspect they will…

    and the polls show that about 80% agree – on some level.

    I would agree that how much is the real issue and that some folks are thinking pennies and the reality probably is dollars.

  86. Anonymous Avatar

    what's the societal benefit?

    We don't knwo yet. It may turn out to show how to do a much better job of recycling. I'm retty much cnvinced we do a lot of recycling mainly for show, but I'm also sure we could do better with enough emphasis in the right places.

    This may show the way. This study is too small to be meaningful, but it will prove the technology. for me,it is all about measurable metrics: if you annot measure or quantify it, don't try to sell it to me.

    RH

    RH

  87. Anonymous Avatar

    I'll say it again, we pay for schools and public safety so we will have the opportunity to use them. If we paid for roads with the wame attitude we wouldn't be worrying about hoaw to pay for them.

    But you think for roads, it is the actual use that counts, mor than the opportunity. Why should we treat them any different than we do sherriffs?

  88. Anonymous Avatar

    Schools do not "have to pay for themselves" and yet we expect taht they will, over time, by producing educated citizens. We expect to get a positive net social value from the money we spend ons schools. No child left behind and SOLs are rough measuremnts of results.

    RH

  89. Anonymous Avatar

    People support taxes and road tolls for transit/high speed rail and they do not support taxes for roads.

    And tht is because they figure THEY won't ride transit, but someone will and that makes THEIR drive easier. Most people figure THEY don't live where the tolls will be inflicted so they don;t care.

    Of course it is politically popular, but it is LOUSY public policy, and our leaders should know better.

    Just spoke to a woman today who said she gave up on the greenway when it got to $5 round trip (it is now $7. She is hoping (in vain,as I pointed out to her) for a new road parallel to Rte 7. which of course isn't ever going to ahppen because of the noncomete clause held by the Greenway.

    But HOT lane supporters will you at you wth a straight face and try to tell you that HOT lanes increase capacity.

    There are now signs sproutig up along the toll road complaining about the situation there. We'll see how long tolls remain politically poplar as they begin to become more prevalent.

    RH

  90. Anonymous Avatar

    who paid the subsidies for the Greenway to make it successful?

    ————————–

    The first round of investors and lenders who lost their shirt.

    Everyone who needs to have some other alternative but won't get one because of the non-compete.

    Everyone who sees their commuting money go overseas to a foreighn operator.

    RH

  91. Anonymous Avatar

    "the non-attainment does not prohibit more houses Ray."

    You just said it controls all sources.

    Houses ae one of the biggest sources, transportation tpo support them aside.

    Suppose you have an area that is in non-attainment. New roads are prohibited, but it is still in nonattainment. They build some transit to reduce traffic, but that doesn't work: now you have transit AND all the new activity related to transit, which means More pollution and less attainment.

    But EPA WILL have attainment as a goal and they will keep adding restrictions until they get attainment.

    They will keep attacking each source until they get attainment. That is their job. and residential emssions are one thrid of that,

    RH

  92. Anonymous Avatar

    "the non-attainment does not prohibit more houses Ray."

    You just said it controls all sources.

    Houses ae one of the biggest sources, transportation tpo support them aside.

    Suppose you have an area that is in non-attainment. New roads are prohibited, but it is still in nonattainment. They build some transit to reduce traffic, but that doesn't work: now you have transit AND all the new activity related to transit, which means More pollution and less attainment.

    But EPA WILL have attainment as a goal and they will keep adding restrictions until they get attainment.

    They will keep attacking each source until they get attainment. That is their job. and residential emssions are one thrid of that,

    RH

  93. Ray – they go not go after houses. they go after SOURCES like fireplaces, or power mowers, or paint and aerosols.

    got it?

    they don't ban cars either.

    they ban cars that don't meet the standards and they won't allow roads that result in increased emissions from vehicles.

  94. re: taxes for things that don't pay their own way.

    Ray.. there are many people who believe that schools do not pay their own way.

    There are many people who think we have entirely too many publically-funded facilities and services.

    there are also others who think they are more than worth it.

    At the end of the day – we decide this by politics.

    It's not whether people fail to understand whether something is a benefit or not or misunderstand.

    In their own minds, they are convinced that schools are worthwhile and worth taxes an many think exactly the same way about transit..

    and they may not use either one..

    you may never call the sheriff but you pay for him…

    we fund what people support funding.. in the end..

    that's the way it works.

    we take a vote and the most votes win..

  95. re: tolls and political popularity

    Ray.. tolls are like schools and transit

    If you say to people: how about a tax on everyone for roads and we let Richmond decide who gets the roads..

    or we do tolls where the people who want the roads pay for them…

    it's no contest…

    that's the elemental issue in NoVa.

    You can turn down tolls..sure enough.. but what will that get you?

    and it does not matter what HOT Lane supporters will tell you either.

    At the end of the day, it's about how the majority of the folks who use the road want to choose – HOT lanes or no more lanes.

    And the thing about the HOT Lanes is that if you do not agree with them.. then you won't use them. No one will force you to use them.

    And you'll end up on the same road that you would be driving on anyhow…. probably with less traffic on it – at least initially as some of the people on that mainline will leave and start using the HOT Lanes.

  96. Anonymous Avatar

    drandaIf you say to people: how about a tax on everyone for roads and we let Richmond decide who gets the roads..

    Noonsense.

    that argument might have had some credibility a few years ago. But, now, EVERYONES roads are deteriorating AND Nova still has special needs.

    Even if you believe that some of Nova's special needs are best met with tolls, that has now become a small part of a statewide problem.

    We need more money.

    The best way to get it is the gas tax.

    The European experience has show that people WILL pay the tax and still drive.

    We are not going to toll all the roads.

    So we will probably experiment with another new tax and have a mileage tax.

    Which is an utterly stupid idea because it is completely equivalent to some level of gas tax.

    And it doesn't provide the same incetives to economize as a gas tax does. (If I'm going to pay ten cents a mile I may as well drive a behemouth and get my money's worth.)

    Tolls, and especially private tolls are going to cost MORE for the same revenue generation.

    But, they make a convenient way to distribute new taxes unfairly AND they allow people to hide from the truth a little longer.

    I know of not a single economist that thinks a mileage tax is workable without many adjustments to make it look and act more like a fuel tax.

    The mileage tax, though, is different from a congestion tax or toll, which economists DO support as a way to reduce demand. Whichis fine as long as we realize that when we reduce traffic demand we also reduce traffic benefits.

    Other than that, tolls are a thouroughly dumb idea.

    RH

    RH

  97. Anonymous Avatar

    "And the thing about the HOT Lanes is that if you do not agree with them.. then you won't use them. No one will force you to use them."

    Jesus.

    The whole reason for building the HOT lanes was because the HOV lanes were underutilized. No one was forced to use them, and no one was paid to use them, so they didn't use them.

    And you think that is now a BENEFIT of HOT lanes? It is the single stupidest thing I ever heard.

    HOT lanes are going to REDUCE the use of car pools. The only reson we are getting more capacity from HOT lanes is that with just one lane there wasn't enough revenue to make it worth while. And so the (truly brilliant) fix was to eliminate the safety lane sow privat enterprise can charge for using that, too.

    And that extra capacity will be more than eaten up by the carppools that disband and pay the toll.

    The end result will be that you can pay throught the nose to go 45 mph or pay nothing to go 15 MPH.

    Unless you ive in ROVA in which case you pay nothing and go 75 mph.

    —————————-

    I really don't understand you, Larry. You get this sales pitch idea in your head and then it becomes truth. But if you just open your eyes and see what actually happens, you will nearly always see that it is a lot different from the political pitch.

    —————————–

    Efficiency does not save fuel.

    Hot lanes will destroy the HOV lanes they were supposed to fix.

    Too much growth represents a subsidy to builders, but too little represents a subsidy to homeowners.

    These are things we can measure, so there is no point in arguing about them, uless you want to argue over "how long is an inch".

    RH

    RH

  98. "We need more money.

    The best way to get it is the gas tax."

    that's a matter of opinion. only 16% of those polled agree with you

    "The European experience has show that people WILL pay the tax and still drive."

    again you mess up.

    they still drive – yes. 1/2 the miles and 1/2 the gasoline.

    that's the difference.

  99. this is #100 so my last.

    " The whole reason for building the HOT lanes was because the HOV lanes were underutilized. No one was forced to use them, and no one was paid to use them, so they didn't use them."

    NOPE. The reason for the HOT Lanes is that we know the NoVa area is going to continue to grow and there will be no more roads (or few) and so HOT is an attempt to more efficiently maximize their use.

    "HOT lanes are going to REDUCE the use of car pools."

    Not true. There are about a dozen HOT Lanes in use right now including the I-15 express lanes that have been in operation more than a decade:

    " Do express lanes discourage ridesharing and transit use?
    No. Drivers still will have a financial incentive to carpool in the express lanes. For example, carpooling in the Interstate 15 corridor in San Diego has increased 80 percent since 1996 when the conversion of carpool lanes to express lanes took place."

    http://www.mtc.ca.gov/planning/hov/faq.htm

    but then you also argue the reverse.. that there will be too many carpools and they'll have to pay a penalty..

    so you argue it both ways – because you're fundamentally opposed to HOT – not on the merits of it but because you philosophically oppose it.

  100. Anonymous Avatar

    " so HOT is an attempt to more efficiently maximize their use."

    How is that any different from saying that HOV lanes were underutilized and HOT lanes were designed to fix that problem?

    ——————————

    "HOT lanes are going to REDUCE the use of car pools."

    Not true."

    Yes, it is true. Car pool use is reduced where Hot lanes are present. It is obvious why. First, some people would rather pay the toll than pay the cost of a car pool. Second, the more tollpayers you have,the less convenient for car pollers.

    Vicious cycle.

    Local studies predict that car pool use will be reduced here, as well.
    —————————

    "but then you also argue the reverse.. that there will be too many carpools "

    We do not know what the contract says is "too many" do we? We could have fewer car pools and still have "too many" which would trigger a "revenue event" for the HOT lane operators.

    What we are talking about hee is not too many in the absolute sense, but too many in the contract sense.

    —————————–

    "carpooling in the Interstate 15 corridor in San Diego has increased 80 percent since 1996 when the conversion of carpool lanes to express lanes took place."

    Complete and utter avoidance of the question asked. The response does not address causality, yet it leads you to INFER that HOT lanes increased car pool use.

    Name one thing that HAS NOT gone up since 1996.

    Any moron can see that it is possible to have more carpools AND YET have HOT lanes discouraging car pool use.

    If you want to measure something,then measure it, don't come up with crap garbage like this.

    What was the RATIO of car polls to non-carpools in 1996 vs today? I guarantee you that it is less after the HOT lanes were introduced.

    —————————-

    they still drive – yes. 1/2 the miles and 1/2 the gasoline.

    To coin a phrase: "You Lie!"

    Total auto VMT per Capita:

    France 4209
    Germany 3961
    Sweden 3989
    UK 3967
    Canada 4859
    US 5701

    26% is a long way from half. But here's an eye opener

    Mexico 0.243

    Do I hear you suggesting we live like Mexico, with 0.09 cars per person?

    The fact is that Europe has spent nearlyequal amounts on its rail system and road system, yet cars account for mor than 80% of travel. Theyhave not given up their cars because of high gas prices, nor do they drive half as much.

    They drive less per person, they use less energy per person, they drive smaller cars, they live in smaller space per person and they generate less GDP per person, and yet you would claim they have a similar living standard.

    If you would make an argument, at least have the facts.

    ———————————-

    I have NO "philosophical problem" with HOT lanes. I oppose them on their lack of merit.

    I have a problem with them because they are a stupid answer to the wrong problem.

    I have a problem with them because they reduce carpools when we want to increase them, and increase SOV usage where we want to reduce it.

    I have a problem with them because private eneterprise is making money with public assets.

    I have a problem with them because they are an additional tax.

    I have a problem because they are promoted as a "user fee" and yet already thee is talk about diverting the funds. My problem is that the supporters of HOT lanes are fundamentally lying to me. As in "car poOl ridership has increased since 1996…"

    Don't insult my intelligence and my ethics and then expect me to support you.

    And if I DID have anything like a philosophical problem it would be that it introduces class differences where there were none before: that's why they call them Lexus Lanes.

    RH

Leave a Reply