Charlotte Light Rail a Big Flop

Let’s see: 100 percent cost overrun? Check.

Anemic ridership? Check.

Requires tax breaks, tax-increment financing, and other “public investments” to stimulate transit-oriented development? Check.

Declared a great success by the transit agency desperate for tax increases to fund further rail projects? Check.

Must be light rail.

As Wikipedia points out, when planned in 2000, Charlotte’s light-rail line was supposed to cost $225 million. The final cost turned out to be $467 million. Even after adjusting for inflation, that’s close to a 100 percent cost overrun. (Actually, considering inflation from 2000 to 2007, that’s about a 75 percent cost overrun.)

In 2008, the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) reported less than 12,000 average weekday trips on its light-rail line. The Houston and Hudson-Bergen light-rail lines, both about the same length, each carried more than 40,000 weekday riders (and can hardly be considered successes).

Given the high capital costs plus nearly $10 million in annual operating costs, the annualized cost of Charlotte’s light-rail works out to more than $3.60 per passenger mile (compared with less than $1 for a typical bus and less than $0.25 for driving, including highway subsidies which, in North Carolina, average less than half a penny per passenger mile). Of course, most of that $3.60 is subsidized; transit users paid an average of just $0.12 per passenger mile to ride it, leaving a subsidy of nearly $3.50 per passenger mile. That also works out to a subsidy of more than $20 per ride, making Charlotte more expensive than almost any light-rail system outside of Buffalo and San Jose.

Tax-increment financing was only legalized in North Carolina in 2005, but Charlotte is using it to the hilt, expecting it to help pay for both future rail lines as well as transit-oriented developments. The city has also waived property taxes on some residences in these development for 5 or more years.

Despite the high costs and trivial ridership, CATS wants more rail — but doesn’t have any money to pay for it. So it has rolled out a campaign of declaring the light rail a great success, especially in the field of economic development. Of course, in most cases it was the subsidies, not the rail, that stimulated the development, and most likely the development would have taken place somewhere in the region anyway, though perhaps not in that corridor.

So the taxpayers are out $467 million in construction costs, millions more to operate the thing, and millions more to support development that would have taken place anyway. What a great success!

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28 thoughts on “Charlotte Light Rail a Big Flop

  1. C. P. Zilliacus

    the Antiplanner wrote:

    > Let’s see: 100 percent cost overrun? Check.
    >
    > Anemic ridership? Check.
    >
    > Requires tax breaks, tax-increment financing, and
    > other “public investments” to stimulate
    > transit-oriented development? Check.
    >
    > Declared a great success by the transit agency desperate for
    > tax increases to fund further rail projects? Check.
    >
    > Must be light rail.

    This being in North Carolina, I am not certain if the employees
    that operate and maintain the light rail are members of a
    militant union and subject to strict union work rules that
    run up operating costs more than would otherwise be the case.

  2. Borealis

    (Pardon me for making gross generalizations, but it makes my point much more succinct.)

    There is a lot of talk on this website about subsidies. While the money wasted on providing subsidies may be bad, the worst affect of subsidies is that it leads to bad investments. The Antiplanner has repeatedly argued that light rail hurts lower income people by reducing bus service, in order to increase ridership of white collar workers who won’t ride buses but will ride light rail. I don’t recall anyone disagreeing with this argument. Are there arguments that light rail/subway and its inevitable changes to bus routes to feed the light rail is an overall improvement to lower income people?

  3. Neal Meyer

    Borealis,

    With regards to your asking of changes that government transit agencies make to local bus routes because of light rail or subway lines, from the standpoint of lower income people, it’s usually a loss mostly because time is spent waiting and in transfer.

    Bruce Hamilton and Edwin Mills cited Ted Keeler on his studies of how people value or perceive their time while in transit. Time spent while moving is usually valued at somewhere around 40 percent of someone’s hourly wage, while time spent waiting is valued at considerably higher rates. Charles Lave also stated that commuters are willing to give up about 40 percent of an hour’s wage to reduce their travel time by one hour.

    Time spent transferring is also highly valued, and it doesn’t matter whether you are trying to go five miles or five thousand, nor what mode of transportation you are using. People want to get into one airplane, one car, onto one bus, or one train, and would rather not have to transfer to another vehicle if they can avoid it. It not only adds time in transfer and waiting, it adds uncertainty to their trip. One transfer might be tolerable, but two transfers will only be tolerated by people who literally have no other choice.

    Hence, transit agencies who build light rail lines and then compel their patrons to stop at a train station and then transfer to a train, whereas they may have been able to take a bus straight to their destination are usually wasting their patrons’ time. But who gives a damn about wasting those low income folks’ time when there are taxpayer dollars, eminent domain power, campaign contributions, contracts, prestige, city boosting and municipal pride, bragging rights, and photo opportunities all riding on the line with rail, not to mention the chance to experiment with urban social theories using your fellow city dwellers as lab rats?

  4. msetty

    Neal Meyer’s claim about transfers based on the abysmal, know-nothing ignorance of minor dead economists like Charles Lave is simply wrong and must not go unchallenged.

    People WILL readily make connections (a better word than the negative term “transfer”) IF short connecting times are provided in an attractive environment, with very short walking distances between connecting vehicles is provided, e.g., generally less than 100 feet, or “cross platform” connections.

    In such situations, requiring connections between transit lines at properly planned facilities has been found by real world experience to reduce potential ridership by around 10%, compared to direct service. Overall, ridership will be MUCH HIGHER with properly planned connections because providing “one service” on “one link” can be provided at higher frequencies, e.g., a transit network with links operating every 30 minutes and coordinated with timed connections at central, correctly laid-out connection points will carry much higher ridership than a complex series of direct 60-minute routes without transfers. Generally ridership will be 100%+ higher, given the fact that the “elasticity of demand” for going from 60-minute to 30-minute services is about 1.0 vs. the 10% lost due to required transfers.

    You don’t have to believe me for proof of this. The entire Swiss rail and bus network is built around the concept of timed connections at central hubs. Swiss transit ridership is only a bit behind the per capita ridership rates of Japan, despite the small size and relatively low density of its cities compared to the Japanese.

    A more complete discussion of this major misconception of the anti-transit blowhards is linked at http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/research/reports/396/.

    This paper from New Zealand is a shorter version of the points made by Dr. Paul Mees in his seminal transit book, Transport for Suburbia: Beyond the Automobile Age.

    Here is the blurb for the New Zealand paper:

    This research explores the potential for the ‘network-planning’ approach to the design of public transport to improve patronage of public transport services in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Network planning, which mimics the ‘go-anywhere’ convenience of the car by enabling passengers to transfer between services on a simple pattern of lines, has achieved impressive results in some European and North American cities, where patronage levels have grown considerably and public subsidies are used more efficiently.

    Three overseas cities provided examples of ‘best practice’ in public transport service design to compare with services in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The comparisons revealed that New Zealand’s three largest urban regions had considerable potential to build on the increases in public transport patronage and mode share that have been achieved during the last decade.

    Current public transport operating practices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch were assessed and key areas were identified in which public transport planning could be improved – namely:

    A public institution is required to plan a network across the whole urban region, to let best-value tenders for the delivery of part or all of this system, and to manage the political processes of change.

    Successful network operations require simple and direct lines; ‘forget-the-timetable’ frequency in key corridors; and marketing that targets new and occasional users.

  5. Frank

    “…know-nothing ignorance of minor dead economists like Charles Lave…must not go unchallenged”

    Nor should attacks on people go unchallenged, especially arguably inaccurate claims.

    Additionally, if “transfer” is such a negative term, why does TriMet use it instead of “connection”?

    When: Depart after 5:07 pm Wednesday, July 7, 2010
    Preferences: Quickest trip with a maximum walk of 1/2 mile
    Time: 129 minutes (including 7 minutes walking and 21 minutes waiting)
    Transfers: 2

    Heaven forbid I have to go from Troutdale to Hillsboro on TriMet and spend the equivalent time of watching a movie to get there while having to make two transfers and spend nearly a half hour walking and waiting around.

    Certainly this is an extreme case, but the semantic point is strong. Additionally, going from Troutdale to Downtown, while not as long of a trip (74 minutes, including 6 minutes walking and 9 minutes waiting), is still cumbersome.

    Now, an express bus that takes perhaps 40 minutes with no transfers would be far preferrable.

    Clearly, this is anecdotal, but I can’t believe there are too many people happy about an hour and 15 minute odyssey with a transfer to the MAX. A direct bus with fewer or no stops seems better. Better still is making the trip in 25 minutes by car.

  6. Scott

    What do multiple routes for one journey & LRT for many non-poor, have to do with the overall fact that new rail is incredibly expensive, subsidized 60-90% by taxpayers, when <2% ride.

    "Transfer" is negative? Never heard that. Why does it sound bad? A connection sounds inhumane, like cargo, & can have multiple meanings, such as hookup or even being at the final destination.

    Waiting for the next route is the big pain for transfers;
    that can easily be another 10, 20, 30 minutes, depending on the frequencies.

    Why even transfer? Attain all your needs on one route.
    If one chooses to not buy a car, pick a home by a route(s), then pick a job & retail & entertainment on that route.
    Not so easy huh? Public transit has major mobility & access drawbacks?

  7. bbream

    Scott,

    You act as though any public transit system will only give you one route along which to travel and that it will immediately limit all your choices to that one route, while a car gives you infinite choices. While that’s true at the most basic level (a car will go anywhere and even buses can’t do that), bear in mind that even in a car you still have to travel along several routes–ever driven across town to get to one specific location? And in those circumstances, your method of travel will be affected by many of the delays that someone traveling along different transit routes would face. Except, of course, for the time spent waiting for transfers. I recognize that fact. But the reports posted by msetty recognize that transfers are something that can be reduced through better organization or technological change. The same applies to congestion–a well-recognized problem that can be addressed and mitigated through organizational or technological change. I wouldn’t say “Gosh, I guess you should always ride the train because congestion happens on roads,” just as I wouldn’t say “Gosh, you have to transfer from one bus line to the other so I guess you should always drive a car.” I know there are those who would say either statement, but I think that’s an exaggeration of the situation on both sides.

    Also, you refer to the purchase of a car as a choice. Please remember that there are many who cannot choose to buy or not buy a car. There are many among the disabled and elderly communities, as well as the low-income people we’ve been worrying about rail lines leaving without buses(a worry that I agree with). Again, they still get hit by the fact that public transit can have major mobility drawbacks, but I think the solution again is for transit systems to be better designed rather than written off–namely, focusing on bus/paratransit to connect poor neighborhoods to more services rather than running expensive light rail through blighted neighborhoods and hoping that gentrification takes care of the rest.

  8. Scott

    bbream said, You act as though any public transit system will only give you one route along which to travel and that it will immediately limit all your choices to that one route,
    Not sure what that means. One obviously has a choice to use only one route or if living near a major intersection or a hub, then several routes. Otherwise, take more time in transferring.

    You have painted conditions for a small group. An even smaller group than Transit riders. It’s funny how some pro-transit people claim than many are forced to won a car, rather than by choice. Sure, a car is expensive.
    You also seem to paint absolute or binary conditions.

    How does technology & organization change transfer time?
    Don’t forget about directions. For most combinations for 2 routes, there are 4 options. The avg. wait time would be half of the average of the 2 routed frequencies. And even for timing on more popular route directions, there are still so many stops (every 1/4 to mile).

  9. bbream

    Scott,

    You make a fair point that I’m creating binary conditions. I’ll concede that, and I apologize. What I meant to say is that there are people for whom owning a car is too expensive or too difficult (due to a variety of disabilities or liabilities, like high crime rates in a bad neighborhood), and in these circumstances transit becomes more favorable. I suppose you can argue that this is still technically a choice, but I would consider it a choice that carries significantly higher costs than exist for the average individual. And in these situations, there should be a lower-cost choice for these individuals–just like buildings include ramps for those who find it too difficult to use stairs. They’re a small group, but I don’t think numbers create the conditions for which exclusion or discrimination is permissible. I recognize that those costs are passed on to the general taxpayers, but there seems to be a general consensus on this website that buses represent an overall acceptable cost to pass on to the public. I want to include paratransit systems in this, especially for assisted living homes. These paratransit systems don’t need to be managed by some large bureaucratic system like a DOT, but they do require planning from someone who understands transportation engineering.

    Technology and organization can change transfer time by increasing information sharing between transit operators and between the operators and the passengers on those transit systems. For example, the trains in Denmark run at 10-minute and 20-minute intervals with 95% accuracy, and each train’s schedule is clearly displayed to passengers (i.e. signs that say that a given train arrives on the 2s and on the 7s). There are similar systems for the buses, and some bus stations even have a count-down that reports how many minutes are left until the bus arrives. With such a well-organized system, transfer times can be greatly reduced because the transit systems can coordinate with each other and passengers can coordinate their schedules with the transit system’s schedules.

    And again, you make a fair point with the high number of stops along a popular route. There’s still the possibility for organizational improvements to reduce the time that each stop takes (the BRT article that Randall posted today mentioned reducing the time taken to unload and load passengers at a given stop to 23 seconds), but there is a limit to what can be done.

  10. Scott

    Yes, more info on next route arrival will help riders, including an LED w/the ETA at each stop.

    Accommodating physically challenged people is expensive & ADA has hurt the economy. My views on that are rather callous, which include euthanasia, by choice or economics, & only certain areas that are handi-capable. How much money should be put into structures & vehicles? Look at the extreme, in parks. Should hiking trails have escalators & elevators.

    One bottom line for buses is that the same amount of money can handle many bus routes vs. LRT.

  11. Spokker

    “Now, an express bus that takes perhaps 40 minutes with no transfers would be far preferrable.”

    Are you expecting the express bus to pick you up at your house and take you directly to your destination or something?

    On most of my bus trips, I’ve had to transfer at least once to get to my destination, and it’s not like I live in the middle of nowhere.

  12. Spokker

    “My views on that are rather callous, which include euthanasia”

    Your views should be expanded to all forms of transportation. That would cut down on congestion. Why operate a paratransit service when you could kill the guy in the wheelchair? However, this won’t do much to cut down on costs or congestion.

    The real gains are to be made on the freeway. Why widen a freeway when you could kill a few thousand commuters? Many of them probably just look at Facebook at work anyway and aren’t very productive.

    Your idea should also be expanded to unemployment. We could cut down on that pesky unemployment rate by killing those out of work. You wouldn’t be killing productive citizens and there are no jobs for them anyway. You’d be putting them out of their misery, a humane course of action to take.

    “Look at the extreme, in parks. Should hiking trails have escalators & elevators.”

    No, and they don’t.

  13. Scott

    The point is not getting rid of people.
    It is for each person to not be supported by others.
    And to not force $100s billions of extra infrastructure (ramps, elevators, etc.).

  14. bbream

    Scott,

    You say that euthanasia could be determined by “economics” as an alternative to “choice.” What exactly does that mean? That your health insurance could run a cost-benefit analysis on you and determine that you should be euthanized? Would there be some sort of appeals system in this, or is this one of those times when an individual shouldn’t question the wisdom of the markets?

  15. Scott

    The euthanasia is by choice. I already stated that.
    Please try to pay attention.

    Cost-benefit analysis is a good idea too. UK’s NIH does that. Probably Canada too. Although, those are not good examples.

    Not forcing others to pay for one’s room, board, medical, etc. is the main point. It’s a shame that gov does that now for over a $trillion/year. That really lessens the GDP & takes away motivation to work.

  16. bbream

    Scott said: “My views on that are rather callous, which include euthanasia, by choice or economics”

    I thought that meant that you saw an alternative to “choice” that therefore did not include choice, and I wanted to hear what you had to say on the topic.

    My apologies for not paying attention.

  17. rob

    “My views on that are rather callous, which include euthanasia”
    This view is not callous, it is evil. Why would someone even offer a view they regard as “callous”- an inner conflict between what one knows is right and just against the seemingly logical conclusions of an amoral extrinsic ideology? Such a view represents the near total failure, at least in this instance, of the institutions of American society, education, religious organizations, business and government. Economics, economy- are concepts and tools of organization and resource allocation used by societies to further social goals and values, the particular structures that have evolved in our society used to enhance material conditions and by extension quality of life, given the underlying implicit ethical assertion that life is precious, has intrinsic value and therefore its quality should be enhanced. By some twisted metamorphosis, the concept of economy has become an end in itself, where attempts are made at placing currency values on individual’s very existence, or conclusions are drawn, devoid of the historically valued moral, social and ethical concerns, about eliminating those who do not fit into some incredibly narrow and myopic concepts of economic “progress” such as GDP. This is the elimination of society, the inevitable logical extension of outsourcing all analysis, reasoning and decision making to an abstraction called the market. It is the near total abrogation of thought, the total subsuming of the individual to the machine. And a machine the individual becomes, unthinking, unfeeling, amoral, and no longer a member of a society at all. This is how points are made repeatedly against the cost of various transportation or built-environment modifications that benefit human beings (the whole purpose of trade and markets), especially the young, the elderly, the sick and the disabled, even if not “cost effective” by the incredibly narrow definitions yielded by econometric analysis. Is a disabled parent still valuable to a child, who or what would even be authorized to make such an absurd “cost/benefit” analysis? Since children are dependent upon others, are they also to be euthanized? There is no such thing, in the natural world, of individual anythings to be independent of each other, either through the abstraction of economic and social relationships or the fundamentals of ecology and energy. Independence is a total and utter myth. As the CEO of a company selling wheelchairs and accessories for the enhancement of the quality of life of the disabled, what atheistic, elitist, collectivist mentality drives anyone to suggest euthanizing my market?

  18. Scott

    I was under the impression that stealing is evil.
    Well, when done by an individual, yes, but apparently when voters get the gov to steal for them…

    Not sure what is misunderstood by choice … to end life.
    See Dr. Kevorkian. People can die miserably without medical services that cost $100,000+, so it might be time to check out. Also, we all have choice to buy expensive things, but economics do prevent many choices.

    Hey, the gov uses force & lessens standards in favor for those earning less. That’s how this recession started, in Congress pushing more loans for those who cannot afford it.

    How much more redistribution can the economy take?
    The top 5% of earners pay 60% of all federal Income Taxes.
    The bottom 47% of earners paid none. Some actually got a negative income tax (payment), plus other programs that are above the avg gov expense.

    Medical costs are over 15% of the GDP, highest in world, by far. Over 1/2 of that goes to <10% of the people.
    How many people can be kept alive for the just the cost of several times the per capita income?

  19. rob

    By definition, in a democracy, voters cannot make the government steal for them. If the voters vote for the government to “steal”, it by definition is not stealing, it is the law of the land. We may be against a particular policy, but one cannot call it stealing if the voters voted for it, for in democracies voting is what defines the law.

    There is nothing misunderstood about choice to end life. Everyone has that option if they so choose, perhaps not in a medical facility since allowing patients to die is a violation of the oath professionals take when becoming a medical practitioner and additionally to do so violates most religious traditions and the underlying ethical assertion behind all societal (including economic) organization, that life is precious and enhancing its quality should be a driving force behind all our activities. Again, this the whole purpose behind economics and trade. The difference is in your suggesting euthanasia as a solution to the problems of transportation and the built environment which are typically argued on this blog. I assert again this is an evil view, and can only be derived when one has abrogated the responsibility for including the underlying moral, ethical and social concerns and outsourced decision making to the extremely limited capacity of what can be defined and measured with Excel spreadsheets and econometric analysis.

    If you disagree with particular government actions or policies, in this society we have mechanisms for you to express your concerns, voting, petitioning, becoming a lobbyist, running for office or even forming your own political party. But do not suggest because you have difficulties with particular policies or associated interpreted implications that your position in any way justifies your policy suggestion of offering euthanasia as a viable solution to medical and or infrastructural development or maintenance costs. What would you think if that suggestion came from the Federal government?

    We do not know how much more redistribution the economy can take. Redistribution has been an intrinsic property of societies since the incipient development of agricultural surpluses. Redistribution is not evil or wrong in itself, it is a practical response to overproduction for immediate needs (debt and overspending, however, is a problem). You may disagree with how resources are allocated and at what level, but again our society contains mechanisms through which we may voice concerns and initiate change. And again, this does not imply or support euthanasia as an option when your views about allocations to medical care or infrastructure may result in death or the encouragement of death for your fellow citizens.

    Determining how many members of our fellow citizens who may be sick or disabled we can keep alive through the medical system is also not related to your assertion that the infrastructural costs of accommodating the disabled can be reduced through euthanasia. Much of our medical cost excess is not due to taking care of those with disabilities. Again, the whole function of economy is so that we can enhance the material existence of all citizens, not the ones we pre-select through government or “economic” fiat. If our ability to select from multiple forms of synthetic peanut butter is reduced by taking care of those less fortunate from accident, illness or birth, then so be it. Every freedom, every assertion of a right when manifest into the real world involves compromise, and it is the underlying foundation of the moral and ethical assertions which bind us as a society which must inform the decision.

  20. Scott

    So, the gov taking a person’s wealth for use by another is not stealing because an elected official says so?
    There are so many flaws with your immoral mob rule.

    Jefferson [or some founding father] said, something to the effect of, that the republic will be doomed when the electorate realize that they can vote themselves “stuff” supplied by others.

    A huge problem with redistributive economics is that the prosperity of the producers becomes depleted through this pillage. And those high output producers slow down on producing or leave the country.

    Look at Hong Kong. It’s gov share of GDP is about 1/2 of that for the US public sector. HK has created much prosperity, coming out of poverty, 60 years ago, to a similar standard of living, as the US, today. HK has longer life expectancy too.

    Full disclosure, HK does have heavy involvement in housing, although it’s not massive giveaways like HUD. HK also does not have policies that encourage out-of-wedlock & unwanted pregnancies, like the US.

    If a majority on people want to steal, its okay?

    Rob, you are evil for wanting to appropriate others’ money for particular people.

    The point about people choosing to pass on, if their financial resources (savings, income, private insurance) can not solve a severe medical condition, was not about transportation. It was about excessive infrastructure spending to accommodate a few, and the forcing of some to pay for others’ huge medical expenses.

    A very rough guess would put all transit agency expenses for disabled at 10-20%. The ADA construction requirements has added $100s of billion of extra expenses.

    You cannot build up society by supplying to the very weak by tearing down the really successful. Overall, society suffers & output is reduced.

  21. rob

    People’s wealth is developed by participation within a functional society, the social organization providing the laws, regulations, the structure and nature of allowable and disallowable forms of interaction and transaction. When included in this societal structure is a democratic form of government, when the voters vote and approve a policy, it is law, not because an elected official says so, but because the voters said so.

    A persons’ wealth, like private property, is defined and protected by public institutions. For these public institutions to exist and function, and therefore the society to remain viable and to make manifest its underlying moral and ethical value system, taxation is applied. The strength of public institutions is related to the strength of private function. This is not stealing or taking wealth, for as empirical observation has demonstrated repeatedly, the democratic form of governance enables the capitalistic form of economy which enables the advancement of material conditions, contrary to your statement where producers are depleted. I am fascinated when such false dichotomies are asserted, as for example, between public and private as independent entities. One is only playing with words when functional governments are referred to with inflammatory statements such as “stealing” or “mob rule”.

    Your assertion against people having to pay for other’s care or infrastructure has already been dissected. Societies have choices to make, and societies are defined by their underlying moral and ethical assertions about the nature of life and why we are here. Sometimes these choices involve, from a pure and simplified economic perspective, suboptimal choices that may negatively effect GDP or other simplistic indices. This is because GDP does not reflect the full status of the health of society. Within a democracy it is the right of the population to choose. Again, if you have problems with the level of government taxation and the allocation of resources, there are established mechanisms for voicing your concerns. But do not attempt to defend and evade discussion from your underlying assertion of encouraging euthanasia to reduce infrastructural spending. If you fancy Hong Kong, you are free to vote with your feet. I think comparing a city state of 7 million to a nation state of 300 million with substantially different demographics, history, geography, climate and cultural traditions points again to the limitations of simple econometrics.

    As individuals, you or I do not determine what infrastructure spending is excessive, or what percent of the GDP the government redistributes, or to whom, or whether based on some preferred accounting structure we can take care of the sick or disabled. Obviously to this point our society has been able to function, it is upon you to prove that major alterations are necessary and that the publicly evolved adaptive mechanisms (democracy and the market) are ineffective and to supply a superior alternative. Only by participating in the society and using its mechanisms can you work to manifest change in your preferred direction. If you disagree with current policies I encourage you to do so, but if you want to make any progress I vehemently suggest you drop euthanasia as a policy alternative.

  22. Scott

    rob,
    The definition of democracy is not to allow for confiscation of some personal property/wealth by others.

    Wealth developed by participation in functioning…
    What the hell does that mean?
    Sure there are laws for contracts & against fraud.
    How can it be justified for the state to take gross amounts of some people’s wealth?
    Look at the Federal Income Tax:
    The top 1% of earners pay 40% of its revenue.
    The bottom 95% of earners pay 40%.

    Laws are made by the voters? It is rare for them to be approved by the electorate. Just consider what is on the a ballot. Very few laws are on there. See initiative & referendum.

    The US is a republic, although it often operates like mob rule, with majority having power, through elected official, to have programs paid for by the wealthy.
    Regardless, you are splitting hairs on voters making laws vs politicians, in addition to not understanding the law process & the point here.

    The question is the just & morality of the laws that treat people differently & redistribute prosperity. It is actually scary what you are proposing that majority can force others.

    Public institutions have done a terrible job at protecting wealth.

    I did not suggest euthanasia as a policy.
    I put up questions about the ethics of gov coercion to redistribution.
    My point was that people should have a death choice & that taxpayers should not be forced to pay extensive health care for highly disabled people. You seemed to miss some sarcasm too.

    Imagine yourself in a group with a handful of people.
    Let’s say these people believed in Constitutional principles.
    Well, based upon your immorality in wanting to confiscate others’ success, these people would vote for you to be expelled or executed because you want to violate others’ property rights. And according to you, that would be just because it’s a majority (or a mob).

    Consider this: for a retail store, there’s one price, for all to pay.
    How would a variable price scheme be?
    Perhaps 1/2 would pay nothing for products & the top 5% of earners would pay 12 times the average the cost.
    Is that fair? That’s how the federal gov works, in proportion to the income tax.

    It is sad that you label evil, when I did not want to violate any one’s rights, but you do.
    Do you often follow ideas from Rules For Radicals?
    Is your goal to destroy this economy?
    Do you like to twist items & distort justice?
    Do you think that half of people should do nothing while supported by others, mainly only 10%?

    You fail to see the stealing. Define stealing.
    Similar to: taking others’ property without their permission, for personal use.
    A law approved by majority makes it okay?

    I probably will move to HK or Australia. Several million US residents might join me, along with a $trillion of wealth, & the US will really have a depression.

  23. thislandismyland

    It occurs to me that the last 10-15 comments seek to avoid or obscure the fact that Charlotte’s light rail cost double what was projected, has half of the ridership projected, and that its proponents want to double down on a losing bet by expanding the system. If you can’t win the argument, change the subject??

  24. Scott

    Changing the subject is often what lefties do.
    I am often confronted with that–posters have no counters to my points & objections, so bring up other points, & I follow.

    However, I don’t think this discussion diverged in that way.

    Somebody did mention disabled services. I kinda mentioned that extra expense for that can drag on the whole system.
    Then I got to the underlying finance issues for all of government–getting others to pay vs. morally paying for self.

  25. dmccall

    Looks like riders are paying 3.3% of the costs of moving them, according to your figures. Lynx’s fare is $1.75, so that means for the system to run without subsidy, the fare SHOULD cost $53. Imagine trying to pitch that to the public.

  26. dmccall

    Can you point me to the figures for annualized cost figure of $3.60 per passenger mile? I need to support an argument I am making against the economics of Charlotte’s rail system.

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