The city wants to spend this much:
per rider bringing people from OUTSIDE the
to come into town in the hopes that they’ll spend
of which the city gets back 1%, or this much:
Let’s repeat. Spend this much:
to get this much:
Here is how this all made me feel:
Here’s what I just sent.
Honorable mayor and council members:
Please reject efforts by some to use additional tax revenue from the city of Austin to subsidize service on Capital Metro’s Red Line. As a strong supporter of rail transit in general but also an Austin taxpayer, I don’t want to spend our scarce local transportation dollars on a service which primarily benefits non-Austin residents, and definitely not at such a high cost.
The most recent operating subsidy information available from Capital Metro shows weekday service requiring an operating subsidy per ride of approximately 34 dollars. This is abominably high compared to good rail lines in other cities – and ten times the current bus subsidy across the system. But this subsidy, at least, is paid for by all Capital Metro members (including Leander residents, for instance). Not so the case with this new proposal.
Even if we exceed weekday numbers by perhaps double, my own quick estimates show we would likely be spending around 20 city tax dollars per rider to bring them downtown and take them back – and a reasonable expectation is that they might spend 40 or 50 dollars while here – meaning the city is asking taxpayers to spend 20 bucks to return 40 or 50 cents to the tax coffers (and this is assuming they wouldn’t have driven and paid to park were the Red Line not an option).
This money needs to be saved for the city’s own urban rail plans.
Since sending this I realized I should also have included a point I made on the phone to KUT an hour or so ago: that during the week, you can make an argument for (some) subsidy by referring to scarce space on highways and roadways and in parking lots and garages. This is not the case on the weekend – plenty of space to get into downtown, and plenty of places to park, some of which even make the city additional revenue.
WHEREAS most riders of existing Red Line service are likely not residents of the City of Austin and the majority likely don’t even reside in jurisdictions which pay Capital Metro taxes
WHEREAS the City of Austin already excessively subsidizes the existing Red Line operations, as the overwhelming taxpayer to Capital Metro, contributing over 90% of Capital Metro’s revenue to allow the Red Line to be subsidized at a cost of nearly 34 dollars per ride
WHEREAS such funds as proposed to further subsidize the Red Line cannot possibly result in a positive economic outcome for the City of Austin given that weekend traffic on the highways is not substantial, and the city can only recover 1% of spending by visitors in the form of sales taxes
THEREFORE BE IT SUGGESTED that everybody reading this contact everyone you know and your city council members and advise AGAINST the City of Austin paying for expanded weekend service on the Red Line and saving the money, instead, for the city’s urban rail proposal – which, unlike the Red Line, will serve primarily Austinites and which desperately needs the money.
Things are going crazy at my day jorb. So this might be all I get to post. This is a comment I just left on the Statesman article:
Almost nobody inside the city limits of Austin has a reason to use this thing on the weekends – because the stations with parking primarly serve those outside city limits, and the stations without parking aren’t pedestrian-friendly (and buses that might connect to them don’t run much on the weekends).
Combine this with the fact that we’d be giving up the $5-$10 the person from the non-Austin jurisdiction would otherwise pay to park their car downtown and this is a truly STUPID move for the city of Austin to even contemplate.
This is something the cities of Leander and Cedar Park and Round Rock and Pfluygerville should be subsidizing, not Austin.
Update from a few months later:
Who is riding the Red Line?
How much are we subsidizing passengers on the Red Line?