Mesa Unaware It Is Broke So It Plans to Borrow & Spend Taxpayers Money to Build an Annual Money Losing Sink Hole aka Extension of the Light Rail

There is an old saying the are always some people don’t get the word.  The last ones to get the word are usually politicians.  It’s true in Mesa where the power elites who love to spend other people’s money to hasten the city’s bankruptcy want to extend the mega-million dollar money pit called the light rail.  Arizona Republic:  “Mesa officials are meticulously planning rail stations along the 3.1-mile extension through downtown Mesa that is expected to open in 2016.”

Phoenix Light-rail Expansion Plans Prove Divisive

Arizona Republic:  “A Phoenix man is hoping to derail Metro light rail’s plans to lay track through his neighborhood as part of an 11-mile extension to the city’s west side.”  Wow! Who knew Valley Metro was planning to spend more of other people’s money so it could lose even more money and need bigger government subsidies?  Not content to suck money from bankrupt Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa and the federal government at the current level, Valley Metro is planning to expand it’s money losing light rail system.  The audacity of dopes.  Why do these people want to ignore the difficult economic reality facing government at all levels and continue to spend, spend spend?

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.

Phoenix Valley Bus Riders Down 10 Million from Prior Year

Arizona Republic:  “In the last fiscal year, 10 million Valley Metro fares were lost as bus riders returned to their cars or found other forms of transportation, according to figures released by the agency that oversees public transit throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area.”

When the economy sours and there is an increase in the number of people who lose their jobs, the laws of economics dictate that the number of bus riders should go up if all other important factors stay the same.  One important factor that probably created the loss in riders is that Valley Metro has cut bus service.  It’s simple math to figure out that if fewer buses are making fewer runs, the number of riders will decrease.

If you buy that argument, then when light rail cuts its services should the number of riders increase or decrease?  According to the same story, the number of light rail riders increased during the same period bus riders decreased.  One reason for the difference is that the bus system suffered much greater cut backs in service than the favored light rail.

A problem with determining the numbers of light rail riders is that the Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa light rail does not count riders as they board the train.  Valley Metro, the outfit that runs the light rail, estimates the number of riders because unlike the buses where riders have to give a ticket or money to the driver, nobody checks tickets on the light rail.  During the first year of its operation, Arizona State University purchased 35,000 passes for its students.  Valley Metro had no way of counting the number of riders using ASU passes so it just assumed a number and pretended like that number of people rode the light rail during the weeks school was in session.

See “Phoenix Plans to Cut Light Rail Service to Lose More Money.”

Idiots Planning to Spend $200 Million Government Doesn’t Have to Expand Light Rail in Mesa

The Phoenix Business Journal reports that the people who like to spend other people’s money are planning a $200 million dollar 3.1 mile extension of the 20 mile light rail line that ends in Mesa, Arizona.  These people are unaware of or simply don’t care about Mesa’s deficit financial condition and the reality of light rail and public transportation life as evidenced by the following stories:

Update:  “Feds OK design work for rail extension in Mesa – 3-mile Mesa extension can now move forward.”

Arizona Planners Unaware of Massive State & Phoenix Budget Deficits Causing Cities to Reduce Bus Services Plan to Expand Light Rail

The State of Arizona is $3.2 billion in the whole.  Phoenix has a budget deficit of $244 million.  Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa, the three cities that participate in the 20 mile light rail system, are cutting bus services because of lack of funds.  Buses serve more people and cost substantially less than light rail.  A group of rail huggers is putting its head in the sand and planning on the future expansion of the Phoenix area light rail system.

Isn’t the goal of public transportation to move people?  Why would any city ever pay for light rail over bus service.  Buses are mobile and their routes can be adjusted to meet changes to maximize the number of riders and the areas served.  Light rail is fixed and cannot change its route to go where the riders are and take them to where they want to go.  Why would any responsible intelligent person ever chose rail over buses for transportation in a sprawling urban environment?  See the story in the Arizona Republic.

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