Thursday, July 19, 2007

Smart growth for thee 

Via Craig Newmark, a great story by Peter Gordon about the cost of the Subway to the Sea.
The Mayor wants to extend LA's Red Line subway another 12.5 miles so it goes all the way to the beach. (Why stop there?)

Planners are still $5 billion short but, the story reports, they do have $5 million for a study of the project.

The sharing part of me prompts me to do the study for free. So here goes.

The present 16 miles of the Red Line accounts for an annual loss of $286 million (even after considering all manner of external benefits from some riders not driving). So we are looking at augmenting this problem by about $223 million per year. The $5 billion to be spent has an annual value (using the governments favored 7.5% annual interest rate) of $375 million. So the bottom line is: forget about it.

In fact, as a bonus, I suggest the MTA shuts down the 16 miles of Red Line they now operate. In fact, if each of the 115,000 current daily boardings are parts of a round-trip, there are approximately 57,500 of them. We could ask them if a lifetime pension of $5,000 per year would make them whole. It's mostly a low-income ridership that now uses the Red Line and many might think that this is pretty cool.
Craig points out that Mayor Villaraigosa is not taking his own advice, being driven instead in his own Yukon. Ironman doesn't want to outfit the poor with Yukons, but rather a nice little ride for each person currently using LA's mass transit. I'd say either cash or the pension, which could finance a used car and some other bills those riders might have.