Thursday, May 30, 2013

Enquirer reports on CIty's misrepresentations about Streetcar operating costs

As with the City budget, as with the use of parking meter revenues, as with the Streetcar construction costs, the City is lying to us about the projected operating costs of the Cincinnati Streetcar project.  

Since operating costs come from the operating budget, every dollar spent on operating costs is traded off from police and fire protection  or higher taxes.  Every modern streetcar system in the nation has been met with higher taxes to fund its operations, without exception. 

Today, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (here) on the drag the operating cost deficit of the Streetcar will have on the City's general fund.  This, of course, explains the "strage bedfellows" alliance between COAST and three of the City's labor unions: The FOP, the firefighters and the CODE labor union. 

Buried in the article, however, is this interesting tidbit:

City officials have said they expect annual operating costs for Cincinnati’s streetcar to be $3.5 million. But that’s not based on any local study; instead, it’s based on what other streetcar systems cost. Transportation officials this summer will attempt to come up with a more realistic estimate.
Now its a little oblique, but what the reporter is telling us is that after seven years of discussion and planning, not one of the budget wizards at the City has even tried to develop an actual budget -- income and expenses -- for the Streetcar boondoggle.  So, it's a little difficult for the estimates to be wrong -- they haven't even tried to run any.

Yes, Cincinnati is plunging headlong into this foolish project, and they haven't the slightest idea what it will cost to operate the same.  Further, as COAST has noted previously, the operating cost estimates will not include the interest on Streetcar bonds or amortization of the track and rolling stock (replacements when things wear out) as most private companies would in their budgets.  These  two items alone will add three to five million per year on top of the actual cost to operate the Streetcar.  Any responsible private operator would include such numbers in their operating cost estimates.

COAST is grateful for the crumbs of information shared by our City fathers on this soon-to-be-failed project.

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