Category Archives: Trains
The first of a string of 24 Super Stops for Arlington (VA) opened on March 11th at the intersection of Columbia Pike at Walter Reed Drive. Construction on this bus shelter began in September 2011 and only recently was completed.
Construction took 18 months longer than anticipated because of lengthy environmental impact statements.
This shelter is supposed to have room for ten to 15 commuters in a lit and heated shelter that provides real time electronic and printed schedules as well as future ticketing for the estimated 16,000 commuters a day. This first Super Station is thought to be perfectly positioned to promote ethnic restaurants as well as a fledgling night life.
This little construction project only cost a cool $1 Million. In fact, upon hearing the cost for the Super Station, one incensed citizen exclaimed “What? That’s ridiculous. From a citizen, from a voter, whoever put that budget through needs to get their butt canned. It’s an outrage.”
This new super costly Super station does not even provide full protection against the elements. Arlington County Board Member Libby Garvey (D) observed that:
[The bus shelter is] pretty, but I was struck by the fact that if it’s pouring rain, I’m going to get wet, and if it’s cold, the wind is going to be blowing on me. It doesn’t seem to be a shelter. It doesn’t really shelter you very much . . . you can get pretty soaked in two minutes.
Anticipating the public protest over the cost of the prototype Super Station, Arlington County officials proclaimed that the bus stop was an investment in the future.
While government officials should be commended for forward thinking, they must be certain that their thinking outside of the box will be embraced by their constituents, that the project is not pork barrel crony capitalism and that the future funding for running and maintaining these services do not break the backs of their taxpayers. The Portland Oregon paradigm of cozy construction contracts, inflated operating expenses from gilded municipal union contracts and uncertain external funding should offer cause for pause.
One of then candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL)’s promises when he ran for President in 2008 was that he would create five million green jobs.
So as part of the Feburary 2009 stimulus (a.k.a. Porkulous) of $847 Billion, almost 6%, or $50 Billion, was earmarked for shovel ready green energy, to be monitored by Vice President Joe Biden. That was a pretty significant “investment” in energy from solar, wind, geothermal and maybe unicorn flatulence.
Despite anemic job growth during the Obama so called Recovery, America has come nowhere near creating five million green jobs. But to justify what they have Representative Darrell Issa’s (R-CA 49th) Government Reform and Oversight Committee hearing in June 2012 explored how the Obama Department of Labor defines “green jobs”.
My favorites were floor sweeper at a Green manufacturer, antiques dealer and an Oil Lobbyist who advocates green issues.
Many critics of Porkulous suspected that it was an unwise expenditure from the Federal Government that acted like a slush fund for the Obama Administration’s favorite groups and contributors. The cronyism and corruption in green transportation can be seen in Amtrak, supposed High Speed Rail projects and most pointedly in green energy projects (FutureGen coal gassification and Solyndra).
During the First Presidential Debate in Denver, Republican Presidential nominee Governor Mitt Romney asserted that President Obama did not pick just with winners and losers with $90 Billion in tax breaks but that the incumbent picks losers.
Let’s see how President Obama’s bets on green energy companies have been paying off.
P.J. O’Rourke once observed “Giving money and power to the government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teen-aged boys”. This demonstrated with the latest proposal of fare increases for the Washington Area Transportation Authority. The DC Metro Board has proposed another 5% fare increase to help alleviate budget shortfalls for the system. This comes on top of the $109 million fare increases from July 2010 that included the dreaded 20 cent surcharge for peak-of-the-peak.
Urban planners and green enthusiasts have long touted the virtues of having railroads and subways to ease congestion and lessen the “environmental footprint”. Few of these modes of transport are profitable. The reality is that most rail systems will be publically operated boondoggles which enrich municipal union workers at the expense and convenience of the public.
READ MORE at my website DCBarroco
Atlanta originated from the settlement known as “Terminus” because that was the end of the line for the railroads to the south in the 1830s. Hence it was fitting that Herman Cain terminated his campaign for the GOP Presidential nomination in Atlanta.
Do not be fooled by Cain’s announcement that he was “suspending” his campaign. That is a fiction for the FEC which allows Cain to continue collecting campaign contributions to defray costs. Cain claimed that his campaign was engaging “Plan B” to establish TheCainsolutions.com to continue to be a voice for the people to advocate for the 9-9-9 tax overhaul plan as well as American energy independence.
In his recent Human Events piece, Michael Barone sounded the death knell for High Speed Rail in America. The Obama Administration sought to dump at least $10.5 Billion towards the El Dorado of High Speed Rail. With so much money being earmarked for HSR, it is no surprise that some of the money was sidetracked for crony capitalism (READ MORE).
Prudent politicians elected after the 2010 GOP tsunami election refused to get sucked into the railroad pipe dream (READ MORE). So Governors Christie (R-NJ), Gov. Kaisich (R-OH), Gov. Walker (R-WI) and Gov. Scott (R-FL) rejected this “free money” from the federal government earmarked for HSR as a clear eyed cost benefit analysis led them to conclude that the porkulous funds would over time rail them into costly long term state expenses without the corresponding ridership (READ MORE).
The Obama Administration was so adamant about quickly creating a rail success story that they pushed for the Central Florida line, which would not even reach speeds that would beat a 86 mile car ride on the I-4 between Tampa and Orlando (READ MORE)
It warms the cockles of a between the beltways cynical policy wonk that Congress and wise state governors cane their senses and derailed this choo choo boondoggle. It will be fascinating if Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) doubling down on the estimated $60 Billion eventual cost of the Golden State Rail project will pay off.
Perhaps we should break out into a rousing ode to Monorails