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Bullet train from Boise
to Meridian derailed as billion dollar local option sales tax bites the
(Mar 08, 2007)
Boise, ID – Phew, gather around, listen up,
shut up, and don't spill that hot cup of Rocket Java on my asthma, girl
friends. Thanks to state legies on the House Tax Committee, you won't
have to pay a 1/2 -cent increase in your Boise sales tax for a ridiculous
Bullet Train from Boise to Meridian. The House Tax Committee voted no, 11-7, yesterday to dump a
bill that would allow voters to vote on a 1/2-cent local option sales tax
increase for buses, trolleys, and a billion dollars for initial development
of a light rail choo-choo train system in the Treasure Valley.
This is important in that the
legislators have confirmed that Idaho should not (1) override or lower the
Idaho Constitution's 2/3 majority voter requirement for multi-year debt to
incur local option sales taxes for any reason -- including an absurd new Jr.
College system -- AND (2) that the solution to Boise's growing
transportation problem should not include a mass transit system.
Why not? Listen up:
Contrary to the editorial page of the Idaho Statesman, the legislature does
not hold the key to a mass transit solution. Population density holds the
key to a transit solution.
After riding the
rails of Europe for five weeks last summer, let me share some key important
info with you. Germany is about the same geographical size as Idaho.
Germany's population is over 85 million. Idaho's population is 1.3
million. Boise's Treasure Valley population is only 400,000.
All leading mass
transit studies indicate that the ROI (return on investment) for mass
transit is only successful in those areas in which trains pick up in
high-density areas and deposit in high-density areas, such as New York City,
Munich, London, and Paris. So guess what, Blueprint For Good Growth and
COMPASS -- Boise's million-dollar studies on solutions for growth and mass
transit? Idaho, and more specifically, Boise's Treasure Valley, doesn't
even come close to qualifying for either light rail, medium rail, heavy
rail, or trolley car solutions for mass transit.
Maybe we should
rethink the mass transit problem. Maybe the mass transit problem is
actually an employer big building problem in which it is assumed that
employers of companies must funnel all their employees down the freeway and
into one big building like Micron to log onto computers for work everyday.
How arcane. Studies show that employees working from home are a lot more
productive than showing up to corporate HQ where the main pastimes include:
cafeteria coffee guzzling, perpetual meetings, and vacation story telling
time at the water cooler.
It would be a lot
cheaper for legislators to give everybody a laptop computer -- although I'm
not suggesting that -- to log onto work from home instead of trying to
finance a multi-billion dollar Bullet Train from Boise to Meridian.
Remember, Germany has 85 million people living in a country the size of
Idaho. They can afford to subsidize mass transit. The Treasure Valley only
has 400,000 people – maybe 200,000 adult taxpayers, projected to be 400,000
taxpayers by 2020, which is less than 1% of Germany’s taxpayers. You do the
development costs will not be proportionately downsized relative to
Germany. Infrastructure and project management costs and controls – sorely
lacking in most of Idaho’s projects such as the failed $136 million
University Place fiasco – will skyrocket, just like in all the other 85%
mass transit failures in the U.S.:
Seattle, Washington’s $2
billion light rail system was derailed when public-private estimates
skyrocketed to over $11 billion.
In Honolulu, Hawaii, 40% of
the contractors working on the $1 billion BRT were under investigation,
indicted, or convicted for money laundering to local politicians.
Florida’s Overland Express,
FOX, pulled the plug when the estimate for its public-private Florida bullet
train ballooned from $4 billion to $13 billion to $40 billion. (FOX was
cited as one of Civic Partner’s previous qualifications to develop Boise’s
now-failed $136 million University Place fiasco.)
Ex Gov Kempthorne’s
“Connecting Idaho” project management costs by WGI/CH2M Hill have tripled
from $15 million to $43 million in less than two years. Total costs are
unknown but have escalated from the initial $3 billion (including interest)
to over $5-$10 billion.
The construction between the
cities of Caldwell and Meridian on I-84 was estimated by Kempthorne's Plan
at $13.6 million. JFAC awarded $70 million, five times more within one
year, and the Idaho Statesman and others have declared that even that is not
parks their cars WHERE to catch the Humphrey GO-BART (Boise Area Rapid
Transit) bus system to get to the Boise Bullet Train station? Or, did you
think the Humphrey GO-BART bus or the Boise Bullet Train was going to just
stop right outside your house each morning to pick you up to go to Micron?
Just getting to the mass transit train station is a new traffic problem in
itself. You do not have to be Albert Einstein to figure out that any mass
transit system in Idaho is not mathematically feasible, just on the size of
the taxpayer base alone. -- FM Duck
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