Throwing Good Money After Bad On Public Transportation

Globe hopping cutup P.J. O’Rouke has written a nifty little piece for the WSJ about the boondoggle known as mass transit. It’s a must read piece because if knowledge is a weapon, P.J. is armed for bear with stats like these:

“…There are just two problems with mass transit. Nobody uses it, and it costs like hell. Only 4% of Americans take public transportation to work. Even in cities they don’t do it. Less than 25% of commuters in the New York metropolitan area use public transportation. Elsewhere it’s far less–9.5% in San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, 1.8% in Dallas-Fort Worth. As for total travel in urban parts of America–all the comings and goings for work, school, shopping, etc.–1.7 % of those trips are made on mass transit.

…The Heritage Foundation says, “There isn’t a single light rail transit system in America in which fares paid by the passengers cover the cost of their own rides.” Heritage cites the Minneapolis “Hiawatha” light rail line, soon to be completed with $107 million from the transportation bill. Heritage estimates that the total expense for each ride on the Hiawatha will be $19. Commuting to work will cost $8,550 a year. If the commuter is earning minimum wage, this leaves about $1,000 a year for food, shelter and clothing. Or, if the city picks up the tab, it could have leased a BMW X-5 SUV for the commuter at about the same price.”

Isn’t it nice to be reminded that your tax dollars are being used to fund things like light rail lines in Minnesota that we know from experience will probably be lightly used and never break even? Only people who aren’t spending their own money, like the government, would keep throwing good money after bad on a product that the public has been proven to have so little interest in using over the years…

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