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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009
The Train to Nowhere

Coyote Blog picked up an article that I had missed...

The Mesa Link debuted the same week as light rail. For now, Link involves a fleet of 10 buses. Each $756,000 vehicle carries a transponder to coordinate traffic lights and keep the bus on schedule for a 12-mile run in 45 minutes.

It’s the start of a much more ambitious program.

Over the next few months, the Regional Public Transportation Authority, which coordinates Valley Metro bus service, will build stations and add technology to the Mesa line to give it more of the pace and feel of a train.

As Warren picks out, Mesa Link runs just as fast as the light rail system and at a capital cost of 1/30 the price.

If I remember correctly there is supposed to be some sort of study on the current rail system before more mileage is built. I wonder if this will come up. Even better, with both systems being lit up at the same time, I would like to get the local heavy hitters who backed light rail to answer why light rail was built instead of a more creative alternative (paging Richard Florida.) If the question was posed, I bet the answer falls into one of two categories:

1) "We sold light rail to the public as a transportation system when in fact we saw it as a development project and fancy bus-like contraptions like Mesa Link wouldn't get the development component done...."

or the more likely response...

2) "Light rail is what the feds were paying for at the time..." That's the answer I usually get from such people along with the additional excuse that the federal money had to be used to drum up local support. Leaving aside that hundreds of millions of local tax money was used to match the federal dollars.

So if light rail was the locally supported option, despite its high cost and inflexibility, because the feds were willing to spring the money what does that say about federally funded transportation projects let alone all the capital projects in the massive federal "stimulus" bill?