Out of Control Policy Blog

Not surprising X 4

1. Charlotte's light rail line shot up in price yet again:

    City officials recently found out the light rail project will cost an estimated $462 million, $35.9 million more than the last estimate, due to design and other problems. Eight years ago, when the project began, the estimated cost was $227 million.

2. The local paper continues to support light rail.

Case in point: This piece by UNC-Charlotte Chancellor Phillip Dubois.

He wants the debate to be "more mature":

    We cannot afford to view light rail simply as a cost; we must see it for the long-term investment it represents in the future of this community.

But wait, there's more: "[N]othing could be more important to [UNC-Charotte's] long-term future than light rail ..."

Wow–really? It's more important than attracting top-notch students and professors?

3. Local officials in other cities continue to pine for rail.

    A vision of the light rail system that could link Downtown and Midtown to the Memphis International Airport rolled onto the Main St. Trolley tracks Tuesday at Central Station.

    Memphis Area Transit Authority officials arranged for the Siemens S70 light rail vehicle, which is being shipped from Sacramento, Calif., to Charlotte, N.C., to stop in Memphis for a public viewing Wednesday.

4. Coverage from rail-free cities continues to look at rail through rose-colored glasses.

In the Memphis article there's no mention of the troubles Charlotte has encountered. Apparently, the fact that rail has broken ground proves it's successful. After all, if it wasn't good policy, politicians wouldn't keep building it, right?

Another misleading point:

    The Siemens car is capable of reaching speeds of up to 65 miles per hour...

I bet that sounds awfully good to gridlock-wearing motorists. It's certainly much speedier than rush-hour traffic. Too bad light rail's average operating speed is only 16 mph.

For the latest developments in Charlotte, check out The Meck Deck.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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