Commentary

Number crunchiní LA transit

Here’s Peter Gordon:

L.A. County now has five recently-completed fixed guideway lines in operation. They include a $4.7 billion subway that carries slightly over 115,000 riders each day, three light-rail lines that cost almost $1-billion each just to build and between them serve 125,000 riders per day, and a recently opened busway that cost upwards of $350-million to build and carries approximately 10,600 riders per day. These are all pathetically low numbers. The county’s population is 10-million and the average person takes about four trips per day My students and I recently applied a standard cost-benefit template to the five projects mentioned and found that, all things considered — including generous assumptions about auto trips diverted and externality costs avoided, these five lines have a net cost to society of $560 million per year.

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Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.