What happens when you give an economically challenged person a column? Something like this. Mary Schulken thinks:
The stakes in this debate about the half-cent sales tax are high. Real cities have comprehensive systems of mass transportation, and plan their development around it. It’s a practical reality. Charlotte, with an estimated 1.5 million in its metropolitan statistical area, needs mass transit, and that mass transit has to include an extensive bus system and some light rail. Yet if the half-cent sales tax goes away, much of the bus system’s funding does, too — along with plans for future light rail.
Charlotteans don’t need a study to figure out what a boondoggle light rail is. When the current light rail line is at least NINE TIMES MORE EXPENSIVE than the next least expensive alternative (Bus Rapid Transit – BRT) would have been, and that every dollar spent on this boondoggle is a buck not spent on fixing or constructing roads, finishing the loop, or other high per-vehicle-mile-traveled projects, you’ve got to wonder what sort of economics they taught Schulken in the Soviet Journalism School.
And what is a "real city" anyway? Are we letting Portland trolley envy drive our transportation policy? Jeez. Charlotte needs to kill light rail and kill it dead before it sucks any more resources into its vortex.
(Speaking of light rail, here’s an update on Randal O’Toole’s devastating mini-study on the carbon emissions of light rail. So whenever you hear a smart growth fetishist argue that light rail lightens the energy and carbon footprint, send them to Randal’s work.)