Monday, November 01, 2010

How to kill a boondoggle

Just say no!

That's what the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, said to a US$11+ billion rail project to build a new line from New Jersey into Manhattan.  A project that was doomed to go over budget, and never make a single cent to contribute towards its capital costs.  He essentially cancelled the project because New Jersey couldn't afford it, although he would have let it proceed had the Federal Government been willing to cover any cost overruns.  There was a 90% certainty that it would have exceeded previous budget estimates of US$9.8 billion, with the highest end estimate being US$13.7 billion.

He wants to use money that had been planned for the project to fix up the state's badly maintained roads and bridges, and refused to increase fuel tax to pay for it.   However that's another story, of state managed roads that are falling apart because of mismanagement and pork barrelling from the past. 

If there was so much demand for rail travel, then fares could go up to generate net revenues to pay for it, yet fares don't pay enough to run the existing services (and yes, the roads to Manhatten from New Jersey ARE already priced, although not particularly efficiently). 

Know any other boondoggles that need someone to say no to them?

5 comments:

FAIRFACTS MEDIA said...

Lyen Brown and his loopy line in Auckland's CBD, his link to the airport and one to the North Shore.
How will the latter affect the $300 million busway?

libertyscott said...

Well quite. Given the electrification is a sunk cost that will proceed, but the rest are not worth it. Rail to the North Shore would cost a fortune, and the bus way would be wasted unless direct bus services were to continue. The bus way is far from reaching capacity. It is rail obsessives who believe in the solution more than resolving the problem. The busway is a success, but it is hardly clogged with overloaded buses.

Jeremy Harris said...

It's at least 20 years till the busway needs replacement/upgrade, that line is more about securing Len's NS vote (such as it is), the CBD loop makes economic sense especially when compared with the motorways being built in Auckland...

Christie seems like an interesting fellow, he's taking on the teachers unions in NJ too...

libertyscott said...

So Len should be honest and say that there wont be a line to the North Shore for decades. The CBD loop makes no economic sense, there are no motorways to be built in central Auckland in the foreseeable future. A far more effective step would be road pricing, but that would require politicians to surrender control of taxing and spending.

Jeremy Harris said...

Yes but as you say that isn't a political reality...

So compared to alternatives being considered it is a viable economic alternative...