When I am in Germany this week, I will take the train from the Frankfurt airport to Dusseldorf. When I am sitting in the first-class section, I will enjoy the ride, primarily because I will be paying for only half of the actual cost of the trip. The German taxpayers will pay the other half.
The proponents of new passenger rail infrastructure in the United States regale us with all the wonders and comfort of modern passenger trains, but somehow leave out the part of who pays for them. The initial cost of building the new tracks and buying the new locomotives and cars is a drop in the bucket compared to the operating cost that never goes down and continues forever.
A few years ago, the city of Miami commissioned a study on the actual cost per passenger of the system known as Metrorail. The study concluded that if they completely ignored the cost of construction and the cost of the equipment and looked only at the actual operating cost, by dividing the cost by the number of passengers using the system, it would be cheaper to pay for a taxi for each passenger using the system. It appears as though we are getting close to that here in Pittsburgh.
I don't debate for a moment whether public transportation is of value to the community. I only ask, at what cost?