MnDaily reports on: High-speed rail to Duluth gains steam
I get quoted.
The project’s estimated price tag is $750 million. Bob Manzoline, with the Regional Rail Authority, said that NLX is expected to carry 800,000 passengers annually.
David Levinson, a University of Minnesota civil engineering professor and an expert in transportation studies, disagreed with Manzoline’s ridership estimate. He called NLX an “outrageous” idea.
“The speed is too slow, very few people live immediately on the line and the destinations aren’t that popular,” Levinson said.
Though he believes NLX will eventually be built, he guessed that other rail projects, such as the Bottineau Boulevard Transitway, Central Corridor light rail and the Southwest Transitway will take priority and will push NLX’s opening to somewhere around 2025.
Manzoline said he thinks students will have a “substantial impact” on the NLX’s ridership numbers.
In fall 2010, 643 University students were from cities like Duluth in St. Louis County, according to the Office of Institutional Research. Currently, half of all undergraduates at the University of Minnesota Duluth campus are originally from the Twin Cities metro area.
If you believe the cost estimate, the capital subsidy is about $1000 per annual passenger, or about $33 per passenger over 30 years (ignoring discounting). If you believe the advocates, it breaks even operationally. I wonder how the now profitable private bus companies feel about this government subsidized competition.
What is the best use of $750,000,000 ? (Ok, it beats a Vikings stadium). Money spent on inter-city transport cannot be spent on urban transport.
Also, this is not High-speed rail.
As of 2006 flights from Mpls to Duluth had 227,361 riders. There is of course a casino, and providing rail service directly to the Casino is important public policy worthy of subsidy.