Sunday, January 31, 2010

3C Snail Rail Boondoggle - *YAWN*

The Columbus Dispatch admits that "Even fans doubt slow travel times will attract riders."
Meeting in Columbus? You better be out of the house by 6:30AM to drive to the train station and park in time for the 7:15AM train. Don't schedule the meeting before 11:00AM, because after the train drops you off at 10:32AM (assuming it's on time) you'll still need to catch a cab or rent a car to get to your real destination. You'll have to wrap it up by 2:15PM too, because the last train leaves at 2:53PM, returning you to Cincinnati at 6:00PM. Find a hotel if you miss it, because you won't be back in town until 10:00 the next day.

Of course if you simply stay in your car and drive, you can set the meeting for 8:30AM, and be home for lunch. Or if you already blocked out the day, you could make the most of the trip with a few cold calls or customer visits along the way.

There are over 10,000,000 addresses in Ohio, and every one of them are connected to each other by our existing network of paved roads. You can reach any of them by automobile, and travel according to your schedule instead of somebody else's. The road network is already bought and paid for, and will continue to be maintained whether the $400 million trains run or not. You'll get there quicker too, because while the train might average 39 mph, you will follow a more direct route at much higher speed (add 10 mph to the values shown if you don't mind risking a ticket).
3C Train
over 10,000,000
Avg Speed
39 mph
60 mph+
Capital Road Cost
Already Paid For
Operating CostsHuge Public Subsidy
Privately Paid

The 3C is Governor Strickland's baby, his crowning achievement of office. And where does it get us? He doesn't have any money for libraries, or your kid's school, so he's pawning those costs off on you through local levies. But he managed to find money for this. A system that more than half the state can't use, and the rest won't want to use.

Thankfully it can't startup until 2012, so there's still time to fix it. The Republicans in the Ohio Senate put enough hooks in the enabling legislation to pull the plug on this enormous boondoggle with a simple vote. And if they fail to act, we'll have a chance this November to replace Strickland with fiscal conservative John Kasich, who can kill it by executive order. The state needs to stop bleeding money, not open up a new wound.


  1. Roads already paid for? Did you miss the memo on the regular upkeep on our highway systems and its costs? I believe the number for upgrading I-75 from the river to Galbraith Road will be about $1.6 Billion. That number might include the replacement of the bridge, but still that's real money. It's dishonest to suggest that roads are already paid for and never cost us anything more. Hate the proposed rail system all you want, but try to not lie while you're at it.

  2. Joe, you must not be a regular reader of the COAST blog. Lying and misrepresenting is their specialty.

  3. Thanks for contributing so much to the conversation Gordo. None of what either of you said changes the fact that the writer of this post is right. The 3-C Rail plan is an inefficient, time-wasting, inconvenient, expensive transportation option.

  4. I believe the author is saying that the cost of the automobile is already paid for. They aren't arguing that roads are privately owned.

  5. Anonymous, you're very welcome.

    While I agree that the current 3C plan isn't very attractive at first glance, I believe there are people who will ride this. The AMTRAK Cardinal from Cincinnati to Chicago takes a ridiculous amount of time from those two points and you can get there faster via megabus or car, however every time I've ridden it, it's packed and usually with people going to and fro in between, very few make the entire trip from Cincinnati to Chicago.

    This will also be a step in the right direction for high speed rail, a stepping stone on the path to something better.

  6. Ohio's highway system is paid for by the gas tax. According to Ohio's constitution, that's the only thing gas tax money can be used for. So yes, the highways are paid for through taxes, but those are taxes only on the users of the system, which is more or less self-sufficient.

  7. Anon 12:23:

    What about people who drive, use a lawn mower, ATV, or other gas powered vehicle, but never use the highways. Are they not subsidizing the more heavy users of the highways?

  8. That's a hell of a reach Rob. Is that really all the justification you could come up with? Does the guy with the ATV strap it onto the back of a commuter train when he takes it out or is it more likely that he puts it in the back of his truck and uses ROADS?


  9. Calling the capital costs for Ohio's roadways "already paid for" and the operating cost as "privately paid" isn't telling the whole story.

    Here are some Ohio Spending figures from 2007:

    Local Government Capital Spending on Roads- $684,935,000

    Local Government Maintenance on Roads- $670,077,000

    Local Government Snow Removal-

    Local Government Law enforcement spending on roads-

    Local Government Interest on Highway Bonds-

    State Capital Spending on Roads-

    State Maintaince on Roads-

    State Law Enforcment Spending on Roads- $281,334,000

    State Interest on Highway Debt-

    Source- FHWA Highway Statistics 2007 Tables SF-2 and LGF-2


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