Looks suspiciously like valuing input regardless of output, at least on some levels. There are the usual questions about methodology and accuracy, too.
In other news, we see that the administration is finally focusing on the limited areas where HSR may make sense. The coulda saved themselves a year just by asking almost anyone here, though.
transit construction funding vs. highway building.
Apples and oranges.
LK>"transit construction funding vs. highway building."
Yeah, I noticed that bit. What I found interesting was there wasn't any mention whatsoever in the lead in to payback.
LK>Apples and oranges.
I dunno. A surveyor-hour is a surveyor-hour, whether he's staking out a rail line or a different kind of roadbed,
I still think it's apples and oranges. No doubt that surveyor expenses will be the same, and both highway and railway construction are highly automated today. My apples-oranges comment is based not so much on comparing cost of construction as on total life-cycle cost. It's apples and oranges because government builds highways and private railroad companies build railroads. Government performs cost-benefit studies, but when all is said and done, they don't have to think much about payback, return on investment, or the things the private sector must consider. That's one reason the railroads are so adamant about rejecting Sen. Rockefeller's stupid effort to force them to allow competitors to use their property. Reduce railroad earnings and watch the window close at the investment banks. A trucker who is forced to park tractors and trailers because of recession also stops paying user charges/fees and because most keep trucks only for four or five years they also stop amortizing equipment costs. So, from an engineer standpoint perhaps highways and railroads are not apples-oranges. They certainly are from a business standpoint. Let me kinow when the first trucking company starts construction of its very own private roadway.
LK>"Government performs cost-benefit studies, but when all is said and done, they don't have to think much about payback, return on investment, or the things the private sector must consider."
That's because we -and by"we" I mean more than voters, more than railroaders: I mean every single soul who doesn't have his head hull-down in full anal defilade- don't MAKE them.
I know exactly how this works, from bitter experience. Some transit or highway planner does his honest best to put a value on the unrecoverable externalities of the project. At each step forward, the numbers get a little blurrier, a little rosier; the final product, though, still has the visible bones of an economic analysis,
Then it goes to the reporters. The new generation has many strong points, but micro and macro don't seem to be part of the usual curriculum.
The look at the numbers, and most of them wave their heads from side to side, like a bobble-head doll, and say "MATH is Hard!!!!"
Then it gets to the pols, and -all- of them do the same thing. Every single blessed one.
A giant sea of middle-aged men and women, with the power to make law, wage war, and levy taxes, doing their best damned imitation of a "Math is Hard! Barbie" doll in unison. I'm surprised no one has made a musical of it.
But the numbers are still there, and life can be breathed into them.
LK>"Let me kinow when the first trucking company starts construction of its very own private roadway."
Big remote construction sites have to do this all the time- the oil and tar sands projects in Alberta and Saskatchewan being the best recent, local examples- and we've even got some ag and mining operations in the lower 48 that have had to look hard at what's cheaper: tires or asphalt.
Now, I get your main point loud and clear, that rail's main competitor, Interstate trucking, does not have to do that. They may not be on steel wheels, but they are riding the gravy trai...nah, better put that another way. "They are benefiting from subsidies." Yeah, that's the ticket.
But as you mentioned at the end, engineers still can do economic analysis. It's just a pity almost no one wants to hear the answers.
Good and valid comments all, anmccaff. You may recall that it was Southern Pacific that built and operated the nation's only active coal slurry pipeline from the Navajo Nation north and west of Gallup, NM, to the Mojave generating station on the Colorado River. That was because no transportation capacity existed and SP did a proper study and determined that for a single commodity movement, the pipeline made more economic sense than building a railroad between origin and destination. Private, for-profit companies think that way; public agencies rarely do.
Just to stir the pot a bit: Anmccaff points out that private entities build infrastructure all the time, particularly when they need to get iron ore from Labrador to the navigable St. Lawrence River, or from the outback of Australia to ports for export. All true. But in each case, the investment in infrastructure enables the developer to make a profit. In our pluralistic system with is multiple users of government-owned infrastructure, questions of allocable cost are very legitimate and some parties end up paying more than their allocable share of construction and maintenance cost and others pay less. Railroad owners, for the most part, build and pay for all of their infrastructure (I know, NS and CSX are peddling Public Private Partnerships for all they're worth) and reserve the exclusive right to use this private property they develop. This is something that socialists wearing capitalist suits in Congress - like Sen. Rockefeller - seem to have a real problem understanding. Truckers have an interesting business model. The society builds and operates the infrastructure and they pay for a portion of it and share its use with private automobiles, busses, local delivery trucks, etc. Presumably, they pay their allocable share, but every independent study ever done has determined that they do not pay their allocable share. That, friends, is an effective subsidy. Next?
Railway & Transit centres need to have road access for 'station wagons', buses, taxis, limousines, motorcycles, pedal bikes and pedestrians so--- why even keep the road vs rail discussion going---this is a dead end.
roadways/railways/transit centres/airports/cities/suburbs/residential/business/industry/shopping centres-mega-malls all need to be 'meshed' together into an efficient network.
Guess what? It's last call... for OPEC HAPPY HOUR!
Time to stick a sock in it, Railwayist. Once again, you demonstrate that you haven't the foggiest notion what anyone else here is talking about. You need to remind yourself on a daily basis that it is better to keep your mouth shut and have people think you a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.