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Ad Watch

By LUCAS WALL
Houston Chronicle - 10/08/03

Format: Radio

Sponsor: Texans for True Mobility

SCRIPT

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.

FACT CHECK

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.