Thursday, July 10, 2008

Stop Calling Them Freeways

A new study shows that highways don't pay for themselves.

Of course, when the same reality is applied to rail transit, the right starts yelling about "subsidies," but we don't hear the same language to describe the true costs of those free(sic)ways.


Compassionate Badger said...

I think it is still possible--if designed correctly--for a rail transit system to "pay" for itself. At least, a rail system could expect to see more revenue generated from fares and passes. No?

James Rowen said...

To CB:

I think there are creative ways to help finance light rail systems. I went to a conference in St. Louis five years ago, and included in my registration packet was a three-day pass to the light rail system.

The cost was a small addition rolled invisbily to the registration fee.

There could be tie-ins with Amtrak, Zoo and ball game admissions and entrance fees at the Zoo, and so forth.

Highways are subsidized, if youw want to call it that, 100% by gas taxes, state and local taxes.

The highway lobby calls that "investment."

So I'd use the same terminology: public dollars can be used to invest in rail, and rail produces private sector investment at stations and along corridors, too.