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Light Rail Will Save Taxpayer Money in the Long Run

It is generally true that light rail costs more to build than busways. However as the old saying goes "you get what you pay for" and it was never more true than with light rail. We often see in the media how much more light rail costs to build. However 50% of that expense will be paid by the federal government. We never hear about the high cost of labor to operate a busway, or that buses need replacing nearly 3 times as often as light rail vehicles. In a few years any money that was saved building a busway will be lost to cover the high cost of operating and maintaining the system. Once that has happened we will continue to pay these high costs for the lifespan of the system. These systems have on the average a very long life expectancy. For example the systems in New York and Chicago are now well into their second 100 years, and show no signs of going away anytime soon.

Even more important, the operating and maintenance cost of these rapid transit systems are paid for almost entirely by local government through their transit agencies, with a little help from state government. We can not expect any assistance at the federal level to help cover these costs.

Anti-rail critics seem to concentrate solely on the construction costs of rapid transit without regard to the operating and maintenance costs of running a system. They either don't get it, or don't want to get it! The operating and maintenance costs of running rapid transit are far more important than the initial cost of its construction because we will likely be paying for them out of our own pocket for the next 100 years or more!

06-07-2007


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