Monday, March 3, 2008

Multiplied By $10 and Divided By Something Else

So after we pick a route, get city, county and Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization approval, if we don't get Congress to change the rules governing small transit grants, is this project still possible?

"It's still possible, yes," Smelley answered.

"Define possible," Ladd demanded. "10 percent? 80 percent?"

"Gee," the consultant answered. "I don't know how to do that." It boils down to The Wave's "cost effectiveness," Smelley said. He launched into a complicated equation involving "travel time saving hours" multiplied by $10 and divided by something else.
This is an actual newspaper quote from Fort Lauderdale. While the city didn't get a straight answer from "consultants" they also won't get a straight answer as to why the Feds won't fund it. But why is that? Because the FTA has been doing a slow bloodletting that no one really noticed until now. Every year there have been less and less projects entering the New Starts program. I'm getting the feeling there will be less projects if no one can coherently explain the process and then Ken Orski will get his way. He says there are no more new systems to be built. Well we know from the transit space race he is full of baloney.

And on a related note, why aren't we trying to design expensive projects. $50 million per mile for a downtown circulator is ridiculous. Don't consultants want to make more money? It's insane to me that they aren't trying to do what Kenosha did and build affordable systems. They are biting the hand that feeds them and screwing mobility and economic development in the process. The city shouldn't get off scott free though. They should have done their research and figured out what costs should be so they can do like Sacramento did in their streetcar design. Put a cap on the cost and design from there. Is it really so hard?

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