Boondoggle en masse (transit): An Alle-Kiski train wreck ...
By The Tribune-Review
Published: Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
The local developer advocating commuter rail between Pittsburgh and Lower Burrell overlooks the public pocket-picking flaw it shares with New Jersey Transit's River LINE light-rail system, which he touts as a model: If it's such a great idea, why does it rely so heavily on public subsidies?
Parallels between the service Robert Ardolino proposes and New Jersey's include routes along rivers (the Allegheny and the Delaware) and tracks shared with overnight freight service. But the telling likeness is how small a role private investment plays.
New Jersey Transit can't say just how much of its lump-sum annual state subsidy its River LINE receives but the agency was paid $3.40 per passenger trip overall in 2011 and the River LINE's $1.50 Trenton-to-Camden fare is heavily subsidized. The Garden State also financed River LINE's approximately $1 billion construction cost.
Mr. Ardolino expects federal grants to pay most of his Alle-Kiski Valley project's estimated $380 million cost. He says it also would need a state subsidy of 88 cents per passenger mile traveled — four times what the Federal Transportation Administration says is the average commuter-rail subsidy. And even optimistically projecting 9,900 weekday riders — 1,200 more than River LINE — the one-way fare is expected to be about $7.
Such heavy reliance on public money is a sure indicator that a project isn't financially viable — and shouldn't burden taxpayers. And that means that Ardolino's proposal must never leave the station.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sunday pops
- THE BOX
- The big sting: To what end?
- Keystone caper: Pipeline politics
- Saturday essay: Resurrection
- Easter 2014: Churches’ vital role
- Liquor privatization: Now’s the time
- Vladimir the corrupt: Up the sanctions against Putin
- Another IPCC warning: More sci-fi
- All taken seriously