By LUCAS WALL
Houston Chronicle - 10/08/03
Sponsor: Texans for True Mobility
The incomparable Ferrari 360 Modena. A 400-horsepower thoroughbred
V8 engine moves its all-aluminum body to a maximum speed of
183 mph. And its luxurious interior appointments provide an
unheard-of level of comfort.
Pretty awesome, eh? But not nearly as awesome, apparently,
as Metro 's light rail proposal. Because, for the $2 billion
Metro wants to spend for just 22 miles of track, Metro could
give each new rail rider a brand-new Ferrari 360 Modena. And
worst of all, Metro 's plan will do absolutely nothing to
relieve Houston's growing traffic congestion. So if we want
real traffic congestion relief, we can't afford a plan that's
all show and no go.
Metro 's plan: Costs too much, does too little.
TTM calculated its numbers based on a total cost of $2.6
billion for Metro 's proposed 22 miles of light rail extensions
that would be built by 2012. This includes $958 million in
construction costs, $1 billion in operating costs through
2025, $550 million in bond interest and an $85 million contingency.
Dividing $2.6 billion by the cost of a Ferrari 360 Modena
($161,400) equals 16,109 estimated new rail riders, which
is in line with Metro 's projections.
Metro contends, however, it's unfair to include rail operating
expenses in the total cost because that $1 billion would have
to be spent running buses if no rail lines are built. The
transit authority says it's cheaper to operate trains than
buses. Metro puts the total cost of the 22 miles of light
rail at $956 million in today's dollars or $1.3 billion in
inflation-adjusted dollars, not counting bond interest.