Cities, Businesses Mull Spending Money Government Doesn’t Have for Railroad Opportunities that are Money Losers

The Arizona Republic reports that a group of idiots called the Southwest Valley Rail Partnership got together recently during these dire economic times to discuss how they can convince elected officials to take government deeper into debt to purchase the money losing sink hole called passenger railroads.  These people are not interested in learning the facts that passenger rail in the United States cannot make money, but they do love railroads and spending other people’s money on railroads that few people will ever use.  If you don’t believe that passenger rail is a big money loser, read these articles:

1.  Government-Run Rail System Losing $32 per Passenger, Study Shows

2.  High Speed Rail Going Nowhere Fast

3. Money train: The cost of high-speed rail

“It is a fact that no nationwide passenger rail system anywhere in the world is considered profitable when all costs — including capital — are accounted for,” . . . “Amtrak released a study in April to demonstrate that Europe’s system is heavily subsidized. Germany’s high-speed rail network, the most expensive in Europe, required average annual subsidies of $11.6 billion during the 10-year span that ended in 2006, according to the Amtrak study.”

Phoenix Eliminates 546 Vacant Job Posts

Arizona Republic:  “Phoenix has eliminated 546 vacant positions, including 166 sworn-officer and 78 firefighter openings, but critics complain that revenue-generating departments such as water and aviation have been relatively untouched. . . .’It’s a shell game,’ DiCiccio said. ‘You should not give the public the impression you’re making cuts when in fact you’re not. It’s not a cut. It’s a transfer’.”

Story Inadvertently Reveals Phoenix Lite Rail Lunacy

A story in the Arizona Republic about Phoenix – Tempe – Mesa lite rail officials cracking down on riders who do not purchase a ticket to ride inadvertently revealed more proof that lite rail is a financial money bomb.  Here’s some of the revelations contained in the story:

  • Rather than force riders to buy tickets like DC and Chicago, Metro light rail riders are on the honor system.  There are no turnstiles or ticket takers.
  • If caught riding without a ticket, the fine is $50, but many violators just get a warning.
  • Metro light rail collects an average of 76 cents per passenger.  This is an interesting fact because tickets are $1.75 one way.
  • Metro light rail spokeswoman Hillary Foose said that the honor system is working because fewer than 1% of riders fail to purchase a ticket.  What Hillary forgot to mention is that Metro has no way of determining how many people do not buy tickets because nobody counts the number of riders and runs the numbers against the revenue.  Metro just puts its head in the sand and makes up a number that makes its policy look good.  The story quotes a frequent rider who said that she sees people boarding without tickets all the time, a statement that conflicts with the 1% guessitmate.
  • Last year the light rail ticket police nabbed 5,660 perps.  If Hillary Foose’s estimate of the percentage of scofflaws were correct, then the number of Metro riders during 2009 should have been 566,000.  According to Valley Metro stats, the number of riders during 2009 was 11,348,343.  Note that the number of riders was 11,346,343, not 11,346,342 or 11,346,344.  Query:  How does an outfit that has no way of counting actual riders come up with the monthly and annual number of riders?   We know Metro is guessing so why the precise numbers?  Why not say 11,300,000 riders?  Is Valley Metro pulling down-to-the-gnat’s-ass numbers out of it bureaucratic butt because it wants to fool people into believing Valley Metro actually knows the number of people who ride the rails every month and year?
  • The ticket police check 12 – 15% of the 1,000,000 boardings per month.  Whoa nelly!  If there are 1,000,000 boardings a month that means there are approximately 10,000 (1,000,000 x .01) ticket perps a month.  That means Metro is losing annual revenue of $210,000 (120,000 x $1.75) if you assume scofflaws only ride one way or $420,000 (120,000 x $1.75 x 2) if you assume they would have bought round trip tickets.
  • Money starved and broke City of Phoenix is paying scarce taxpayer dollars to have 12 Phoenix cops ride the rails looking for ticket scofflaws.  Instead of fighting violent crime and other more important crimes, Phoenix is wasting 12 cops to catch 5,000 – 6, 000 perps a year.  Let’s do the math for the Metro and Phoenix big spenders of other people’s money.  If the average pay and benefits of 12 cops is $75,000 a year that means Phoenix is spending $900,00 a year to catch 6,000 ticket perps and collect $300,000 ($50 fine x 6,000) in fines.  If the money goes to Valley Metro instead of to the Phoenix general fund, then Phoenix is wasting $900,000 a year instead of $600,000.
  • ASU students can purchase an annual light rail pass for $85.

Bankrupt Phoenix Spends Taxpayer Money It Doesn’t Have to Build a Skate Park that Excludes Bikes

From the we don’t have the money and the debt isn’t ours so we can spend other people’s money go deeper into debt department.  “A new urban skate park has been approved for Margaret T. Hance Park near downtown Phoenix but it won’t allow bike riders.”  I’ll give the city fathers the benefit of the doubt and assume that the city powers believe that a very large percentage of the city’s residents of all ages will be bringing their boards and in-lines to the park to hang with their homies and praise the wisdom of the city’s leaders – Not!  Notice that the story does not mention how much money the city will pay.

What I fear is that a city that spends money like there is no tomorrow and without regard to whether it has the money will create the ultimate money pit – light rail.  Oh yeah.  I forgot.  Phoenix already did that.

Phoenix Officials Confident Downtown Economic Problems to be Solved by New Bowling Alley in $900 Million Cityscape Development

Arizona Republic:  “It’s not that downtown Phoenix is a ghost town. . . . But few people linger.  The city hopes to change that on Friday. With a bowling alley.”  Here’s my favorite part of the story:

“In Phoenix, city officials and CityScape developers hope the bowl-o-rama will anchor the $900 million project with work lunches, evening corporate events and late nights out for 25- to 45-year-olds.”

What will Phoenix do next to revitalize jump-start downtown Phoenix night life – open a bocce ball facility or a bridge / canasta parlor?

Update:  Pipe dreams for a vibrant commercial downtown Phoenix meet reality – “Two downtown Phoenix restaurants close.”  The now defunct downtown Phoenix restaurants are Downtown Sports Grill near Washington and Second streets and Carmine’s Little Italy.

Great News – Broke Phoenix to Stimulate Local Economy by Building Its 5th Skate Board Park While Cutting Public Services

I can hear Phoenix city leaders saying “Deficit?  What deficit?”  Arizona Republic:  “Skateboarders will have a fifth plaza to roll up and down ramps in Phoenix, city officials said Tuesday.”  The story does not mention how much the park will cost.  Perhaps the city leaders consider skateboard parks as just another form of the much loved mass transportation money pit.

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