Dave Osmek – the Mound City Council member who’s running for Senate this fall – has gotten an op-ed in the Strib today hitting the same notes about light rail that he hit in this space a few weeks ago (Part One and Part Two):
Using the Met Council’s 2010 report, the cost of a single ride on the Hiawatha light-rail line is $2.46. Riders pay only 99 cents of this cost, leaving almost 60 percent to be subsidized by the public.
But this is not the true cost of a ride, as it does not include the 30-year amortized costs of bonding for the build-out of the line. Adding those costs in, at a 4 percent bond interest rate, a single ride actually costs $6.42, which means each ride is subsidized by 85 percent.
If a family of four rides the Hiawatha Line to a Twins game, the public is paying a total of $43.36, while the riders are contributing $3.96.
Right now, we are paying over $15 million each year to keep the Hiawatha Line operating. Adding in the amortized costs of building the line, it’s more than $56 million in taxpayer dollars each year. Yes, some of the costs were federally funded, and other revenue streams are bearing some of the burden. But with trillions of dollars of deficit spending, do we really want to add to the debt that future generations will pay for decades to come?
The comment-section trolls are claiming Osmek’s got the wrong numbers – which is odd, since all his numbers came from the Met Council website.