Light Rail in Other Places

I got an email this morning from new friends who were visiting Scottsdale earlier this summer. I walked past them on the sidewalk in Downtown Scottsdale as they were trying to read a map. I asked if I could help them find something, and managed to point them toward several local attractions.

They just sent me a note including the following:

…the Fort Lauderdale City officials are trying to push the light rail system in our downtown area.  The City has trolleys on similar routes and no one is taking them.  Residents are furious about this concept coming to the downtown area as it will be a giant “boon doggle” and an unnecessary expense. Besides, it does not enhance the area.

Here’s my response:

We’ve been fighting off this monster for ten years. You would not believe the continual pressure for it from the urbanists, rail contractors, developers, and the politicians who benefit from the political contributions and promises of post-political employment or under the table deals.

I’ve studied this issue extensively, and can demonstrate empirically from the data provided by the rail lobby that all their supposed benefits are lies. It causes more congestion, more pollution, higher costs (perpetual subsidy, never even breaks even), and absolutely destroys small businesses and community character.

Ft Lauderdale residents are right to be furious. This thing won’t do anything a bus system can’t do, especially if the bus system had the money that light rail gets. Ironically, the light rail can’t service even a small fraction of the transit needs, so buses are still needed…and light rail takes money for needed improvements AWAY from the bus system, especially after a few years of rail losses.

It has been very interesting to me to hear our mayor and city council say things like, “We already settled this question,” when I know good and well that the Chamber of Commerce to which they answer is absolutely still pushing the light rail agenda.

Rail aside, however, my friends went on to say,

Your state is one of the most beautiful and diversified places in our country. We’re seriously contemplating another trip next year.

I hope we can continue our trend of repeat visitors to help keep our economy strong.

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