Friday, December 19, 2008

The New Zero Down


Hat tip Akubi.

Remember how well 0% down worked for housing? Let's try it again this time with public works.

From McClatchy:
States, for instance, usually must provide a 20 percent match to receive federal money for transportation projects. Now, though, state officials and others are trying to get the requirement waived for a stimulus bill. And with more than 40 states projecting budget deficits in the next two years, that request is finding sympathy on Capitol Hill.

Any guesses which types of "transportation" projects will get pushed with 100% funding. Yup, the least justified, otherwise known as transit boondoggles. Just ask Boulder about their light rail. Their Regional Transportation District announced the cost to build the system by its 2017 deadline would be $7.9 billion -- up from $4.7 billion. Skyrocketing prices for materials and declining revenue from RTD's 1 cent sales tax were blamed. Don't you love it? Declining revenues blamed for cost over runs.

33 comments:

Santa Flipper Clause said...

Ho Ho Ho - It's Santa Flipper Clause

If government gets involved, it will be done poorly.

Murst?

Santa F. Clause

Random10 said...

Please remember to always insist on state of the art monitoring packages when requesting no money down mass transit funding. Once you … incentivize … the public to subordinate their free time bureaucratic travel schedules, it is important to assure them that any harmful actions against them by their unknown companions will be well documented. Without continual surveillance, how can people be assured the authorities are constantly watching out for their safety?

Lou Minatti said...

Boulder is a nice little city. But $8 billion for a rail system? That is more than the entire Houston rail plan! Are they using gold plating on the rails?

Lou Minatti said...

OK, I looked into it. Rob, that $8 billion is for the entire Denver metro area, including Boulder.

sk said...

I lived very near Boulder. We don't have no steenking Light Rail. That's for the great unwashed in Denver.

There is a bus only lane on the Turnpike ( Hwy 36 ) but that's it.

As Lou points out, you must be thinking RTD, which covers a lot of sins.

-K

Rob Dawg said...

One of the promises of FasTracks was light rail to Boulder but that was $3.9 billion ago.

Lost Cause said...

I can't wait to walk out of my house and take the train to where ever I want. Buses suck, and driving is the reason why people are so unhealthy. Nobody walks. I mean -- look at the people of LA. There is no bigger bunch of fat, disease ridden bodies on the planet. Do you ever go to the beach?

Where ever there are trains, they are packed. Explain how that means no demand. I hope that these projects start withing weeks of Obama's swearing in. Let the pencil pushing bean counters be damned.

Rob Dawg said...

Where ever there are trains, they are packed.

Which US rail system would you like me to analyze for capacity utilization? Something self contained please. Denver? SLC? San Jose?

Akubi said...

Thanks for the hat tip. I was rather surprised my link didn't generate any comments.
With the federal govt. bailing out all of these f-ed up corporations, why not throw California into the pork barrel too?

I agree with Lost Cause.

Chris said...

Which US rail system would you like me to analyze for capacity utilization?

Portland Oregon please.

Bill in NC said...

Capital costs are so high for light rail it's cheaper to put people on buses (run them on natural gas, not diesel) instead.

If you're going to spend money on rail spend it on electrifying heavy rail to displace fossil fuels used in long-haul trucking.

Rob Dawg said...

Portland's Tri-Met MAX system it is. One of my absolute favorites. I have the real data going back to the early 90s, not the "revised" data. Why the differences? Well back in 97-98 there was an accounting change that dropped MAX operating costs by a third but balanced out by raising bus costs by a passenger equivalent 8%. Then there is the infamous "boardings" scandal c. 2003 when MAX was forced to massively revise their ridership "counts." There's so much to present that it will be a seperate post tomorrow (Sunday) because I have chores and a party to go to a little later. I'll try and include crime trends near stations before and after being added to Fareless Square. If there's room the Battel corruption near the airport and the use of Federal Funds as matches for other Federal Funds and the use of Airport funds off the airport for light rail that doesn't go to the airport.

Oh yes, I love MAX and am glad to be of service.

Edgar Alpo said...

Hi Akubi!

Ahem, We'll be sending back your convicts very soon now. You-all can't afford to pay anymore, and we can. Better lock your doors at night.

MaxedOutMama said...

Boulder also wants 6 million to retrofit 60 hybrid vehicles to plug-ins.

$100,000 per car. Methinks Rob's got a point - how much of this "stimulus" is going to be spent in massive boondoggles?

Random10 said...

Mama - All of it. Every penny.

Random10 said...

Rob, I have read that winter storms in Oregon demonstrate that light rail is vulnerable to total shutdown under extreme conditions, just when transit service is needed the most. I have also read that in these situations, buses routinely come to the rescue when trains fail. Such evidence may nudge individuals to lean towards the idea that flexible transportation is preferable to one track ponies. OT: Are you still waiting for your pony?

Akira said...

Whatever. We're totally screwed.

Chris said...

Random10,

I think they're worried about that as they announced they're running it straight through the night with de-icers, etc. They also made sure to get time on the news to report it will be running and not to worry.

Akira said...

Knocking on Heaven's Door

sk said...

MoM asks how much of the money will be spent on boondoggles. All of it has to be right answer.

All this crap about infrastructure.. Mannn I've pounded the pavements, ok sidewalks of Glendale, CA, Pasadena, CA, Simi Valley, why even East LA,and WestMinster and downtown or walked along the paved over river beds of the LA River, the San Gabriel River/Hondo(??).

Then there's the whole Front Range of Colorado I'm familiar with.. I've driven thousands of miles and of highways of the USofA in my 16 years here.

And then I've just got back after 2 months in India...

THERE IS MORE INFRASTRUCTURE required in a sq. kilometre of Pune, India that 1000 (10,000?) sq miles of the USofA.

Of course if you discussed certain parts of Kenya the ratios are way higher than THAT...

From that perspective, any spending on infrastructure ( shovel-ready projects argggghhhhhhh ) that comes from the govt. decision making processes in the USoA is axiomatically a boondoggle.

Like that "FeedThePig" ad says.. "you don't need it".

But they'll spend it anyway. And with borrowed money at that !

-K

Lost Cause said...

Capital costs are so high for light rail it's cheaper to put people on buses (run them on natural gas, not diesel) instead.

I don't know how transit can be really called "mass" when buses only hold so many. They end up stuck in traffic with everyone else. A train can hold many more. We need more than a single system.

Lost Cause said...

Who says all the news is bad? Bush is adding new jobs as we speak.

Stampede for 'Bush shoe' creates 100 new jobs

Baydan has recruited an extra 100 staff to meet orders for 300,000 pairs of Model 271 - more than four times the shoe's normal annual sale - following an outpouring of support for Zaidi's act, which was intended as a protest, but led to his arrest by Iraqi security forces.

Akubi said...

As far as I'm concerned George W. F-ing Bush can shove it up his ass.

Akubi said...

As I happily go about losing my mind these days, I seek mushrooms but it is already too late
And my dogs fart.
I was neither or..livimg m

Peripheral Visionary said...

Lost Cause, buses are far more efficient because they use roads that would have to be there anyway, but remove large numbers of cars from said roads. The bus I ride to and from work averages forty people or so; that's a lot of cars off the road. They can get stuck in traffic, which is why a lot of cities have traffic rules that give buses preference, e.g. HOV lanes and "Bus Turn Only" signs. The major downside to buses is that they aren't "sexy", but, well, get over it.

That said, we desperately need a Metro line to Tyson's Corner. Of course, Virginia should pay for it, but since Virginia is broke, guess who's going to pay . . .

Peripheral Visionary said...

P.S. Dear California: You're broke.

Sincerely, Peripheral Visionary

Property Flopper said...

PV -

But at least we aren't burried in snow. :)

I spent three years in Montana, had enough snow. I'll visit snow, just to slide down it, but I don't want it showing up on my doorstep.

Property Flopper said...

Rob -

Here's fun news for ya... worst real estate markets (projected) for 2009. LA #1, Riverside #3.

Looks like your neck of the woods is going to get a whole lot cheaper in the near future.

http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2008/fortune/0812/gallery.worst_markets.fortune/index.html?cnn=yes

And no, not a cute little linky thing, cut it and paste it just like your grand parents did. :)

Jean ValJean said...

Pfft.. .maybe YOUR grandparents. MY grandparents used IP addresses, just like THEIR grandparents. And that was good enough for them!

And on the subject of linky goodness, here is the financial year in pictures, from the WSJ:

http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/EOY2008-SLIDESHOW.html?category=Finance

I especially like the panicked look of the trader manning two phones at once.

Lost Cause said...

Property flopper...you forgot Santa Ana #4.

H Simpson said...

Heck

California pulled 8 of to 10 for the biggest fall to come.

almost a hat trick of hat tricks.

Only way out is a war. So when is Arnold going to declare war with the US?

Rob Dawg said...

Sorry for the post delays. I screwed up some access control and I think it is fixed now. Three part Portlandpalozza coming up. Tonight? Maybe.

Akira said...

Nobody speaks English on the reverse commute bus I ride. I find that rather annoying.