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Home / Articles / News / Letters /  The Heavy Costs of Light Rail
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The Heavy Costs of Light Rail

By City Weekly Readers
Posted // June 15,2010 - This would be a good time to review the success or failure of our Utah Transit Authority. I will start with TRAX. We have spent almost $1 billion, so far, on TRAX. The light-rail system kills a couple of people each year, costs taxpayers between $4.50 and $9 per ride and ridership is flat. UTA has been caught falsifying boarding numbers and costs have bankrupted the system. Failure: Shut it down!

FrontRunner costs the taxpayer $35 for each boarding, $1,600 per month per customer. FrontRunner averages 48 riders per one-way trip on a train designed to carry 400. FrontRunner burns 1.4 gallons of fuel per person per one-way trip (twice as much as a car). According to the Utah Department of Transportation’s Website, traffic on Interstate 15 actually increased after FrontRunner began operations. FrontRunner is a proven failure: Shut it down!

Now, UTA administration: Isn’t it amazing how the more incompetent a person is, the more we will pay them? My babysitter would do a better job running UTA. Failure after failure results in huge pay increases. Why don’t we just ... you guessed it: Shut it down!

Drew Chamberlain
Layton

 
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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // July 31,2010 at 22:25

I see that we're still playing with the numbers Drew.

Let's start with that so called failure of TRAX. If we head to the National Transit Database and pull the operating expenses and the capitol expenses from 1996 (the year that SLC started building the first TRAX line) through 2007, we find the following:

SLC has spent $1.009 Billion running its bus system over that 12 year period.

SLC has spent $715.04 Million, with an M, running LRT.

In 2007 the buses moved only 7 Million more rides than did light rail, which moved 16 million rides. Yet UTA spent $103.3 Million to operate those buses and only $26.2 Million operating light rail.

UTA spends an average of $4.64 every time someone steps on a bus or 61 cents per passenger mile. UTA spends $1.61 on average every time someone steps on a light rail train or 32 cents per passenger mile.

Now as we all know, UTA embarked on a major expansion of TRAX in 2008. That will no doubt add to light rail's overall costs pushing it ahead of the buses over the next few years. But with the disparity in operating expenses, once construction ceases, the buses will once again retake the lead as the most expensive form of transportation.

Now, let's turn to Front Runner. As i showed you in a posting on the Arizona Central website many months ago, using the actual data from UDOT's traffic counters, shows that traffic did not increase after Front Runner started.

Station #315, 1.4 miles south of Lagoon Dr on I-15, Davis County:

April 2007 - 154,428 April 2008 - 150,901
May 2007 - 153,487 May 2008 - 147,286

Station #612, I-15, North of SR 126 Interchange, Layton:

April 2007 - 101,180 April 2008 - 92,397
May 2007 - 94,351 May 2008 - 89,151

Station #616, 0.7 miles North of I-215 On-Ramp, Woods Cross:

April 2007 - 175,077 April 2008 - 169,144
May 2007 - 172,492 May 2008 - 165,080

Then we come to the fact that 90,000 is the number from the low point in ridership. The reality is that ridership in March 2010 was 123,900 and the average daily ridership is now at 5,100 per weekday for the first quarter of this year. And finally the average life of a system like Front Runner is 40 years, not 30.

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 18:02 - Wow, what a brilliant response. No wonder you can't figure out why your number are all wrong.

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 17:57 - No....I am not.

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 17:48 - Drew, When you include the cost of a monthly pass and calculate a taxpayer subsidy per person, then you are indeed implying that the average worker works 26 days per month. And that is false!

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 17:24 - No, I am not implying that working people work 26 days per month. What I am saying is that when FrontRunner runs (26 days per month) some people use it. These very few people I refer to as customers. How would I know how many of those few customers actually work? I mean at a job....most are probably on welfare, but then that can be work too.

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 17:07 - Drew, go back and look at your calculations. You multiply $70.98 by 26 days. You are implying that working people go to work 26 days per month. That is false! They don't go to work 26 days per month. Your calculation is wrong!

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 16:58 - Where do I even mention working people? What does FrontRunner have to do with how many days a person works? FrontRunner runs empty 6 days a week. It wastes precious tax money 6 days a week. It infuriates Davis County residents 6 days a week. I am not sure anyone actually works any more, we just print more money and raise the debt. Then we just bailout or subsidise every failure that comes along. And if a person is really incompitent we will raise your salery and give you a huge bonus ARRRRRRRGH.

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 16:44 - Drew, This isn't a hard question. Do you honestly believe that most of the public goes to work Monday through Saturday? Taking only Sunday's off. No, most people go to work Monday thru Friday, working 5 days per week. The only way you can get 26 days per month is if people are working 6 days per week. And most people don't do that.

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 16:23 - Again.....What are you talking about????

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 16:08 - Drew, I'm talking about the fact that the average worker doesn't go to work 6 days per week. The average worker goes to work 5 days per week. Please prove me wrong or change your calculations!

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 15:56 - OK Ablib, What are you talking about?

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 15:46 - Drew, It's a simple question, but an important question that everyone should have the opportunity to hear your answer to. What workers do you know that go to work 6 days a week? That one answer is the basis for much of your calculations and therefore everyone has the right to know how you've come to that conclusion that everyone goes to work 6 days per week. It's only a waste of your time to answer that question because doing so would invalidate all of your calculations. Answering that question, or for that matter producing any document that proves any of what you've said here, would unravel your entire campaign of misinformation on transit.

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 15:14 - Ablib, Please stop wasting my time. If you are truly interested in Utah's LRT experience then come here and see for yourself. I will clear a day for you and I will drive you myself.

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 15:04 - Drew, Let's start with something very simple. Tell me what facts are twisted in the following statement: The average worker goes to work 5 days per week.

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 14:45 - Ablib Again you will twist the facts and you are wrong. You are a waste of time.

 

Posted // August 1,2010 at 23:44 - Drew, I believe in facts that can be verified from official sources. And the fact is that nothing can be found on UDOT's website that indicates that traffic increased after Front Runner started. The only thing that can be found on UDOT's website are the raw numbers from the traffic counters that conclusively prove that traffic did not increase. That fact alone make it highly unlikely that UDOT would ever issue the statement that you claim they did issue. Moving on, please show me evidence that proves that the majority of workers work 26 days per month. Anyone with a modicum of sense knows that's not the case. Yes, there are some people who do work 6 days per week. But the majority of people work 5 days per week. This is simple common sense! I don't have to believe that I'm right, I know that I'm right on this one and so does anyone else reading this. I'm right about these matters above and everything else that I've stated here.

 

Posted // August 1,2010 at 22:27 - Alblib Believe what you want. You are wrong.

 

Posted // August 1,2010 at 16:04 - Drew, I see that you still can't get my handle right, just like you still can't get the facts right. You claim to have seen a report from UDOT that says traffic increased. No such report exists on UDOT's website. And the direct traffic counters that are listed on UDOT's website contradict your claim. UDOT's very own counters prove that traffic didn't increase after Front Runner started running. Conclusion, UDOT would never have made the claim that traffic increased when they have proof that it didn't. And I see that you still can't understand the simple fact that the average worker does not go to work 26 days per month. The average worker goes to work Monday through Friday. That's 5 days per week Drew. Depending on just how the calendar falls, that means at most the average worker rides the train between 20 to 22 days per month, not 26 like you continue to falsely claim. And you don't need a website or a report that you cannot produce to understand this simple fact. As for the rest of my numbers, they come from the National Transit Database, which is tasked to do nothing but collect, audit, and compile the data. The reports from the NTD are part of the basis by which the Fed decides how to dole out transit monies to the local agencies. Those monies include rail, bus, ferry, and other transit options. These reports are accepted around the country as the official source for data on transit systems of all types by Republican, Democrats, and other's. It's only you, Drew Chamberlain, who refuses to accept the numbers because they shoot big holes in your theories.

 

Posted // August 1,2010 at 14:29 - Ablib good to see you again, and still fond of LRT. Of course we disagree. You may use your web numbers that are wrong. Please come here and you MAY see the truth for yourself. We can pickup where you left at the so called new development in Farmington, you know the one where the net said it was there but a personal eye view is just a hole in the ground, remember that?

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // June 21,2010 at 19:47

More information;

Recipe for Waste

Just another example of Government Waste, one that we can stop!

FrontRunner Facts we know:

700 million dollar build cost.

15 million dollar per year for maintenance X 30 year average life ($450 million).

FrontRunner operates 313 days per year, 26 per month.

Ridership is 90,000 boardings per month, 3,462 per day, 1,731 round trips (customers) per day.

FrontRunner makes 72 one-way trips per day.

FrontRunner burns 1,600,000 gallons of fuel per year, 133,333 per month, 5,128 per day, 71 gallons of fuel per one-way trip.

Traffic on I-15 INCREASED after FrontRunner opened (UDOT traffic statistics).

Do the math:

Cost per customer per month;

700 million plus 450 million = 1.15 billion. Divide by 30 year average life of system = 38,333,333 million per year divide by 12 months = 3,194,444 million divide by 26 days = 122,863 per day. Now divide that by 1,731 customers = $70.98 per day X 26 days = $1,845.43 per month. A monthly pass costs $160. Tax subsidy is $1,685.43 per month per customer.

Average Ridership per one-way trip;

90,000 boardings divided by 26 days = 3,461.54 boardings per day, divided by 72 trips per day = 48.08 passengers per one-way trip. FrontRunner is designed to carry 400 people.

Fuel consumption per passenger per one-way trip;

1,600,000 gallons of fuel per year divided by 12 months = 133,333.33 gallons of fuel per month divided by 26 days = 5,128.21 gallons of fuel per day divided by 72 trips = 71.23 gallons per one-way trip. Now divide that by 48.08 passengers and we burn 1.48 gallons of fuel per passenger per one-way trip.

FrontRunner costs the taxpayers $1,685.43 per month per customer.

FrontRunner averages only 48.08 passengers per one-way trip.

FrontRunner burns 1.48 gallons of fuel per passenger per one-way trip.

Traffic on I-15 INCREASED after FrontRunner opened (UDOT traffic statistics).

For more information call Drew Chamberlain at 801-913-4611

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // June 17,2010 at 10:02

Lets not be short sighted. Light rail should be extended and when it is extended it should run 24 hrs a day. Once the transit system is complete we should raise fuel tax to 5.00

Thias will stop the ridiclulous, un necessarry expansion into distant suburbs. I t will stop our dependency on oil. It will clear our air which at times is the worst in the nation.

After this we are still stuck with the waste you keep voting to bring to the State, Energy Solutions.

Stop worrying about the trivial salaries of UTA. Rather think how we can afford raises for all of the others who have not received pay adjustments for over three years.

 

Posted // October 14,2010 at 20:36 - TM, I hate to break the news to you, but you too are Joe Taxrider. Drivers do not pay their full value for the roads in this country. Just last year at the Federal level we spent $69.116 Billion on our highways. Of that, the Federal portion of the fuel tax only collected $34.616 Billion. The other $34.5 Billion was pure subsidy; that's a 50% subsidy to drivers! And asside from the fact that Drew's numbers are wrong for many reasons, some of which I've pointed out futher below, the post that you're responding to is about light rail and not commuter rail which is what Drew thinks gets a subsidy of $1,600 a month.

 

tm
Posted // October 14,2010 at 19:01 - Joe Traxrider, you should be saying thank you to the taxpayers giving you $1,600 a month in subsidies so you can feel self-righteous and superior to those people who drive. Even though people who drive use LESS gas than you and pay their own way via a $.42 tax on every gallon of gas.

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 16:49 - Point proven.

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 16:33 - Drew, In that case then, please let me offer my apologies. I misunderstood what you were saying. On the other hand, it is still important to note that the gas taxes don't cover the outlays on our roads and may need to be raised for that reason. So while I agree that a punative attack against drivers is wrong, the simple reality is that all forms of transportation receive a subsidy.

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 16:22 - I was not refering to rail, I would love to see more rail or balloons or whatever so long as you don't waste my taxes in the process. I refer to the concept of sin taxing gas (to $5.00).

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 16:06 - Drew, I did nothing of the sort. You want to tell everyone how to get to work, taking away their Freedom of choice. I seek to give people the option to choose how to get to work, be it rail, bus, or car. The point you were trying to make was that light rail took away the freedom of choice. It does exactly the opposite. It gives people the freedom of choice.

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 15:54 - Thank you, you made my point.

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 15:49 - Drew, The only one here stopping "freedom" is you. Having a combination of buses, light rail, commuter rail, and roads gives people the Freedom of choice as to how they would like to travel. You seek to take away that choice and tell everyone that they should travel by car.

 

Posted // August 2,2010 at 15:10 - This would also stop that little thing we call freedom.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // June 16,2010 at 17:41

How many billions do we spend every year on I-15 and our local roads? What is the cost per rider of the vehicles we own, asphault we lay, concrete we pour, and potholes we fill? As you might say, Shut it down.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // June 15,2010 at 15:19

I have to agree with this letter; UTA is waisting money on Salaries for their Execs and waisting money on FrontRunner, pluscharging high prices. The only solution is either the State take over UTA or shut it down!

 

 
 
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