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There’s always something to howl about

To the attention of Mr. John and Ms. Jane Sucker, taxpayers: You’ve been had . . .

Sorry you were the last to know…

From the Las Vegas Review Journal:

The Las Vegas Monorail saw ridership collapse by more than 30 percent in 2006, capping a disappointing year with its worst ridership month ever in December, according to monorail statistics.[...]

Nonetheless, monorail officials Monday took an optimistic view.

“The monorail’s current daily ridership of approximately 20,000 riders still far exceeds most rail systems throughout the country,” said Ingrid Reisman, a spokeswoman for the Las Vegas Monorail Co.

The good news for taxpayers in Nevada is that they haven’t — yet — been stuck with the bill for this white elephant. Don’t you wish you had good news where you live?

Tell the truth: Wouldn’t you be willing to settle for an accurate accounting of the taxpayer subsidized losses of your local mass transit system…?

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  • 6 comments

    6 Comments so far

    1. Dustin January 30th, 2007 11:11 am

      I definitely appreciate accurate accounting and think the “taxpayer subsidized losses” should not only be applied to transit systems but to the roadway system where orders of magnitude more money is spent! :)

      I’ve spent more than a little bit of time in Henderson (outside Vegas) and I can tell you that hundreds of millions of taxpayer subsidized loses have gone toward building a transportation system of roads, freeways, signal systems, etc. that for all practical purposes is broken for most of the day.

      As a former transportation planner, I’ve worked with lots of local transportation planning organizations (including working with MAG on their lightrail plans) and I feel comfortable saying that the Henderson/Las Vegas area has the worst transportation system in the country.

    2. Greg Swann January 30th, 2007 11:36 am

      I am opposed to government roads (and to all government intrusions in real estate, transportation or any other form of commerce), but it remains that the costs of highways are borne by fuel taxes and other road use taxes. In many places, highway taxes are a “profit center” for other government boondoggles.

      Light rail, to pick an egregious example, is subsidized by a factor of ten or even twenty times the fare paid by the passenger. Still worse, the hidden losses of light rail systems usually occasion cuts in bus routes that are actually or at least potentially profitable. In the cities of the west that were developed after the advent of the automobile, light rail is a pretty but largely unused amenity for rich white people that is partially subsidized by cuts in bus services that are a survival necessity of poor black and brown people.

      But: To argue that government mismanagement of the roads justifies government mismanagement of mass transit seems to me to be specious. If you want intelligent solutions to transportation problems, the very first step is to get the government out — all the way out. Only profit-seeking enterprises work to solve problems in ways that are satisfactory to their paying clientele.

      Incidentally, this is why the Las Vegas Monorail is failing: It is allegedly a for-profit business (backed by state-guaranteed bonds), but the clientele it sought to serve was not its dwindling readership but the owners of the casinos on its route. A government-influenced decision-making process will be much more likely to be erroneous, from a profit-seeking point of view, than decisions made by entrepreneurs. The reason is that entrepreneurs bear the consequences of their errors, where governmental or quasi-governmental entities can always divert unhappy consequences to the taxpayers.

      Henderson/Las Vegas: Have you never drven in Seattle? The worst I’ve ever seen… ;)

    3. Tom January 30th, 2007 2:43 pm

      We should each take a region and do some freedom of information acts to get the dirt on how much of a boondoggle these mass transit systems are.

    4. NVmike January 30th, 2007 9:15 pm

      I definitely appreciate accurate accounting and think the “taxpayer subsidized losses” should not only be applied to transit systems but to the roadway system where orders of magnitude more money is spent!

      Typical cost analyses for mass transit systems only examine fares collected vs. operational costs.

      Excluded are many positive consequential benefits from mass transit: less traffic congestion, less air pollution, lower fuel consumption, lower requirements for parking space, etc.

      These are much harder to quantify but clearly they’re benefits directly related to the mass transit system and any fair analysis should include them.

    5. NYCJoe February 1st, 2007 12:10 pm

      Unfortunately, mike, such a fair analysis would erode the positions of people who have a vested interest in the car continuing to be king.

      If you want to look at the main reason why the Vegas monorail is failing, you don’t need to look very far: it doesn’t solve any problems. In order to get to it, you have to walk at least 15 minutes through the bowels of the casino where the station is, assuming you can even find the signage that directs you to the station. Then you pay $5 (!) for a one way trip to – you guessed it – the back entry of another casino, where you walk 15 min through its bowels in order to get where you are going.

      It doesn’t serve the airport. It doesn’t serve the entire strip. It doesn’t serve the locations where people really want to go. That’s a recipe for failure.

    6. Anonymous September 30th, 2007 1:30 pm

      Has it occurred to anyone that the failure of the monorail is due to it’s extremely limited scope and service? It’s a tiny, tiny line of track that doesn’t really serve anyone. Like the previous poster said, it doesn’t serve the airport (big mistake) and it barely serves a few hotels (via the BACK DOOR lol) If it served the airport and ran the length of the strip, stopping at each hotel all the way to the Strat, thousands of travellers would use it.