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Here's a Shocker: Sacramento Light Rail Costs Jump (again)!

Leonard Gilroy
August 14, 2005, 9:03am

Another day, another upward cost revision for a proposed light rail system. This one's in Sacramento: Wouldn't we all... And the most beautiful part is this: Ho hum...transit cost underestimates are so commonplace now that it's almost a non-story, were it not so unbelievably maddening. With few exceptions, advocates of big ticket transit projects inevitably play a "bait-and-switch," with cost estimates "unexpectedly" rising somewhere during the project's implementation. For other recent examples, see D.C. Metrorail's west extension and the Seattle monorail fiasco. More on cost projections here, and here's a post on the related issue of demand overestimation. Perhaps we need a new rule of thumb for new rail projects...take the advocates' first cost estimates, double it, and shave off 10-15 percent depending on your mood. I'll bet that nine times out of ten, this approach gets you much closer to the final cost than any advocate's estimate.

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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