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Why don’t we just buy the new riders a car?
Fascinated by the actual construction costs of our new Green Line, coupled with Metro Transit’s ridership projections. As reported in the June 15 Star Tribune (“A rail of 2 cities”), I drew the following conclusions:
We are eliminating two bus lines that drew 23,800 riders daily in 2010. In their place, taxpayers have spent roughly $1 billion to build the downtown-Minneapolis-to-downtown-St. Paul train line. Net result: 3,700 new daily riders. The cost of construction for each of those additional riders amounts to $270,000. Factoring in the line’s estimated $35 million annual operating cost, taxpayers will be paying $9,459 per new rider per year.
Is it not too much to ask of our local, state and federal bureaucrats that they consider the alternative of literally giving every one of those additional 3,700 riders a $20,000 car, at a total cost of $74 million? Given auto replacement rates, those vehicles will be driven almost 10 years. Total annual operating costs of the Green Line over those same 10 years? $350 million.
In short, light rail is a taxpayer nightmare. The vast majority of us prefer to drive our own vehicles on the routes we prefer in order to work, live and play as we choose.
Mark H. Reed, Plymouth
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I’m tired of hearing from suburbanites with cars about the failures of the Green Line. This large, taxpayer-funded project doesn’t serve them directly or benefit their interests in a tangible way. I get that. I felt similarly when tax money was spent to make yet another very large space where balls are thrown around.
The beauty of policymaking is that — in a perfect world — it serves the entire population’s needs. However, the suburban, car-driving crowd has been disproportionately on the receiving end of this policymaking for quite a while now. Happily, their concern is unnecessary.
This new transit system that gives unprecedented access to the Twin Cities for frequently underserved neighborhoods is good policymaking as well. It’s just meant for other people.
Sam Weisberg, Golden Valley
HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL
Performers deserved being in the spotlight
The article that you did on my high school at Spring Lake Park called “Friday night footlights: The story of a real-life high school musical” (Variety, May 4) was great. I really enjoyed reading it. Being in the pit orchestra myself, I knew full well what the performers were going through, and this article really highlights to the public exactly what high school kids often have to deal with in their day-to-day lives. I truly wish I could see more and more of these articles, because many people around our state do not realize exactly how hard kids work to pull off these kinds of performances — especially high school kids.
Calvin Kettering, Fridley
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.