What Do YOU Think: Is Metrolink Commuter Rail Worth the Cost?

From a trend perspective, the streets, roads and freeways are seeing more congestion,” said Darrell Johnson, an Orange County Transportation Authority official. “And it’s making people think of more options.”

And for many of us in Orange County, that means Metrolink commuter rail service. As soon as I found this in The Register this morning, I just had to read it. As a mass transit user myself, I do my best to keep track of new developments in transit options in Orange County.

But anyways, here is something that got me thinking. Over the next few decades, OCTA will need to invest over $1 billion in expanding Metrolink rail service in order to keep up with demand. Do YOU think this investment in commuter rail for Orange County is worth the cost?

It seems that as every year passes by, a few thousand more OC commuters give up the freeway drive to ride the train. Isn’t that a good thing? After all, more people on the train means fewer cars on the road. And of course, fewer cars on the road means less traffic on the freeways AND fewer carbon emissions being released into the atmosphere. So perhaps by investing some more money in Metrolink rail service, we’re saving the planet from the coming climate crisis while we relieve regional traffic congestion. Doesn’t that seem like a good investment?

I think you can tell where I’m coming from on this issue, but that doesn’t matter. I want to hear what YOU have to say on Metrolink and expanding rail service in Orange County. Are we wasting money by spending it on commuter rail? Or is this a good investment that ultimately benefits all of us?

Go ahead. Make my day. Fire away! :-)

  10 comments for “What Do YOU Think: Is Metrolink Commuter Rail Worth the Cost?

  1. August 14, 2007 at 8:33 am

    There are riders who are requesting more trains and longer operating hours. It’s getting more crowded. I’d say this is an example of the tax payers willing to pay more to get more services. We are not wasting money.

  2. August 14, 2007 at 9:13 am

    For more on options for transit in Orange County, we invite your readers to visit http://www.prtstrategies.com to learn about Personal Rapid Transit.

  3. Andrew Davey
    August 14, 2007 at 9:24 am

    Gary-

    Great point! I guess I’ll have to fully reveal my true opinion here, so I might as well do it now. This is a classic case of “supply and demand”. Commuters in Orange County are increasingly demanding rail options to get around, so Metrolink and OCTA should do whatever they can to increase the “supply” of commuter rail here. We want our rail here, so let’s encourage our transit authority to deliver on that! :-)

    PRT-

    I’ve heard a little about personal rapid transit before, but I’m still not THAT familiar with it. I just went on your web site, and that system looks quite awesome. Thanks for providing the link, and I’d LOVE to learn more about PRT! :-)

  4. August 14, 2007 at 11:51 am

    I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call it a waste of money, but whenever you commit money to one thing, you’re unable to spend it somewhere else (opportunity cost).

    Just for the sake of argument, would that $1 billion do more good if spent on higher teacher salaries for schools, or expanded rail service?

  5. Travis
    August 14, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    I don’t know…. a billion dollars could remodel a few dozen government office buildings instead.

  6. Aunt Millie
    August 14, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    The PRT strategies guy really has the right idea. A billion dollars in elevated, automated cars would provide an extraordinarily efficient way of moving passengers around some of the older areas of the county where densities will support a system like this, but won’t support light rail.

    What’s great about this system is that it is transitional and scalable, and there are real companies who are working on bringing systems on line. I’m most impressed by the Vectus test track – it’s a project funded by POSCO, the integrated steel giant that is the backbone of the Korean economy, working with Swedish Rail for safety testing, with tacit support from the Swedish government. Ultra has an actual system under construction at Heathrow in London.

    Just think what might happen if the federal government put a few billion into funding test tracks and technology to give Americans jobs on a new technology like this that could be solar powered.

  7. August 14, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    As a co-author in opposition to the extension of Measure M I have interfaced with many Orange County residents on future transportation solutions for our residents. Furthermore I personally know the individual promoting PRT which offers a unique opportunity that deserves further scrutiny.

    Adding additional stations and extending hours of service on Metrolink will not solve our freeway congestion concerns. Having just driven through three major boroughs in New York we passed many elevated trains. They also have an extensive subway system into and around the city which I used when I worked in Manhatten. However, they also have a high concentration of office buildings, shopping centers and housing that can justify that old system. Land in the city is at a premium. Parking your cars cost an arm and a leg. We ahve relatives who live in the city that do not own a car for that reason.

    The same argument applies to other major metropolitan areas be it London or Paris.

    Future transportation relief based on projected growth will require a multi pronged approach. There is no one answer for the future growth of this area. As such PRT should be on the table for discussion.

  8. grouchomarxist
    August 14, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    Of course virtually ANY expansion of public transit is a good idea. Long-term thinking must prevail over the myopic libertAryan mentality that has gripped OC for far too long.

  9. Andrew Davey
    August 14, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    Aunt Millie-

    OK, if you say so! Maybe we should take a serious look at PRT.

    Larry-

    As I said to Aunt Millie, I think we should consider PRT as part of a long-term transit solution. But still, I don’t think it has to be that OR Metrolink. As you said yourself, we need a multi-faceted solution. So let’s support Metrolink now, AND let’s look at possible PRT lines for OC.

    grouchomarxist-

    I love you. I just don’t think I could have said that better than you did. I love you. ;-)

  10. RHackett
    August 15, 2007 at 7:28 am

    I think of all the cars that would be on the road were it not for MetroLink. I would say it is worth it.

    The opportunity cost of the lost man hours and pollution is worth the cost.

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