Building It Doesn’t Make Them Come

Bruce Landis had an article in the Sunday Providence Journal with the telling title, “Few, but enthusiastic, riders.” The “few” are people actually taking advantage of the new length of commuter rail to Wickford. The train goes on from Providence to Boston.

Data from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority show monthly rider- ship increasing from the time the station opened, April 23, 2012, to 6,000 that June. After that, the figures become uneven, plunging by a third from June to July and then shooting up, doubling from July to August. It isn’t clear why the figures were so irregular during the summer. The DOT said it couldn’t immediately explain them.
After August, the data show ridership flattening out, with between 5,000 and 6,000 people riding per month.

This is despite “vigorous” promotion by the state and free-ticket deals. The accompanying table shows that “between 5,000 and 6,000” per month is actually a little generous. The reality is more like a steady decline since August.
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Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
8 years ago

“between 5,000 and 6,000 people riding per month.”
Is that 5-6,000 individuals, or, is it 300 commuters making 20 round trips?

Russ
Russ
8 years ago

First off, this is written like someone who doesn’t work in the city…
“On one hand, that’s understandable, given that riders probably tend to walk from the station to their offices, and cold weather is a strong incentive to take a car and park nearer one’s destination.”
Often the train is as close or closer than whatever lot one uses.
I’d add that it’s disengenuous to divide the number of passengers in half based an assumption that a transit survey doesn’t know how to account for round-trip passengers. Tha’t’s just being dishonest.

Justin Katz
Justin Katz(@justin)
8 years ago

Russ,
I’ll concede that you are the master of all things disingenuous, but I think you’re assuming too much. The article refers to “ridership,” whatever that means. Without description, I think it’s fair to speculate that it, in effect, means seats filled, not people served. If a company is counting “rides,” it sounds like a one-way ticket.
By contrast, consider this description from David Klepper, from April: “An average of 149 people took the train from T.F. Green Airport in Warwick on weekdays from January to March 2012. An average of 177 people took the train to T.F. Green daily.” He later writes that “a year ago, the MBTA reported that 109 people on average were using the new service each day.”
First, it is entirely plausible that the train from the airport would serve twice as many people as the one from Wickford. Second, the article currently in question isn’t even as clear as “people.” Look also at this sentence, from yesterday’s Projo: “Conductors on the train said about 30 people got off Tuesday’s 5 p.m. train from Boston, at Wickford, which they said was about normal.” If it’s “normal” for 30 people to take the rush-hour train FROM Boston, it’s not implausible that only 45 or so take other trains back and forth to other destinations.
But hey, if it makes you feel better:

Landis reports that the average day in December saw 151 passengers on the Wickford train.
One hundred and fifty-one people.
Judging roughly from the pictures in the newspaper, if all of them boarded the train at the same time, they wouldn’t need much more than two cars, if they needed that.

Wow. That completely undermines my contention that the state is sending mostly-empty trains across the state. Good eye, Captain Disingenuity!

Russ
Russ
8 years ago

Ah, yes. Personal attacks. Very clever.
My mistake (and shame on me) for not reading the source article, instead relying on the “facts” as you reported… “Landis reports that the average day in December saw 151 passengers on the Wickford train.”
What’s interesting is that you find the need to make these suspect assumptions in the first place, given that I think we all can agree we’d like to see improved ridership.

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

Russ – I think Justin’s assumption is entirely reasonable based on the information in the article. At the very minimum, it’s worth discussing that a significant number of the passengers are likely round-trip commuters. I think you’re looking for contention points here.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
8 years ago

I think the riddle is easily solved. In most such situations it is possible to buy a monthly “commuter ticket”, at a substantial discount. Surely it is known how many such tickets are sold.

dave
dave
8 years ago

Once again the only problem with the perfect liberal solution is the “unexpected” results, no riders and costs too much.
But then again the employee benefits and federal subsidies were the only goal of the project.

Mike
Mike
8 years ago

Spot on, Dan. Union jobs….

Russ
Russ
8 years ago

“At the very minimum, it’s worth discussing that a significant number of the passengers are likely round-trip commuters.”
And certainly only counted once by someone standing on the platform and counting how many people get on. To assume otherwise only serves to illustrate the animus on this blog to all things public and most things green.

Justin Katz
Justin Katz(@justin)
8 years ago

Your example points exactly to the problem, Russ. Does the person standing on the platform then go on to double his or her count on the assumption that everybody will return… that is, “how many seats are we filling”… or to figure that the one-way boarding is representative of the number of people being served. The Klepper article I quote above shows how that distinction is easy to make in an article.
And again, if you want to argue that the difference between 75 people a day and 151 people a day is a really, truly critical difference, spaced through multiple trips of a train that can probably carry upwards of 500 people each trip, then you can go ahead and do that. It’s tangential to my main point, although I understand that more substantive arguments are contrary to the buffoonish management of public funds and economic development that your ilk tends to prefer.

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

Russ – I’m fairly certain there isn’t somebody standing on the platform manually counting passengers and connecting faces from the morning commute to the evening commute. Your suggestion that this is even a possibility seems far more silly to me than Justin’s assumption that the numbers are tallied mechanically and don’t account for round-trip passengers.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
8 years ago

I have often wondered if too many politicans were “Lionel Deprived” in their youths. They seem unable to resist the call of trains, perhaps this is onoly a response to federal grant money. Interestingly, Florida just declined it.
I think I repeat myself here. I once knew an old fellow, Jarvis Hunt, who was President of the Massachusetts Senate circa 1944. On his watch it was determined to shut down the train from Boston to New Bedford. “For less money we could buy a new Cadillac for every rider, every year”.
Guess what? Massachusetts is now determined to rebuild the line. How many New Bedford to Boston commuters would you guess there are?
I can’t help but wonder if this doesn’t fit into the progressives idea of “mass transit”. (actually, I think I use a conservative term, with progressives preferring “Public Transportation”)We can cage them, we can control them, we can determine when they can travel, they will be totally reliant on us.
I have too much time on my hands today.

Russ
Russ
8 years ago

“I understand that more substantive arguments are contrary to the buffoonish management of public funds and economic development that your ilk tends to prefer.”
Ah, yes. Must be hard for you to be so smaaaht.

Russ
Russ
8 years ago

Last spring the parking garage reported approx. 70 cars per day. And the MBTA transit survey found that 56% of riders boarding in Wickford Junction drove their own cars. That’s an estimated 125 passengers per weekday as of June.
So Justin’s contention is that there’s been a 40% drop in ridership over the past 6 months? Puh-lease. It’s actually quite odd how some over here seem to actually root for failure.

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

Russ – What parking garage? What survey? Who estimated that number of passengers? Is that adjusted for round-trip passengers?
We have no idea what your sources are or what you are even talking about.

Russ
Russ
8 years ago

northkingstown.patch.com/articles/wickford-junction-averaging-150-riders-per-day
http://www.dot.state.ri.us/documents/intermodal/2012_Commuter_Rail_Survey.pdf

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

From your first link, we still have the same question of how many of those passengers are round-trip. Not sure how that disputes anything Justin said.
Putting aside that the survey report you reference was apparently conducted and written by student interns (“Just 36% of passengers boarding at Providence earned a combined household income of $100,000 million or more.” [sic]), I’m not sure what you are asserting it proves. It’s presented entirely in percentages – I couldn’t determine from the report how many of the surveys actually came from Wickford passengers. The students also apparently surveyed the same trains on different days? What kind of methodology is that?

Mike678
Mike678
8 years ago

While I normally don’t advocate the use of use of Wikipedia, the attached link does have some usable sources. Note that the projected use of the ~$50M station was somewhat higher than the estimated 150 passengers a day we have today–with all the incentives and hype: “Some 80% of the 1700 riders per day projected for the extension to T.F. Green and Wickford are expected to board at Wickford Junction.[14]” It goes on to state that “… as long as ridership reaches that number, they don’t expect any costs to the state.” Hmmm…. I wonder what this costs the state today…
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wickford_Junction_(MBTA_station)
I think we can safely say the projections were a tad optimistic. Perhaps the California high-speed transit people may want to look at their projections?
Finally–No, Russ–we don’t root for failure. But it is a data point for the increasing inaccuracy of government projections–and how numbers are twisted to make a bad investment sound good. Now if we can only get gas to $10 a gallon–then we can make people take the train and we’ll be right!!!!

Russ
Russ
8 years ago

“Some 80% of the 1700 riders per day projected for the extension to T.F. Green… we don’t root for failure.”
But you foiks refuse to give this any time and play games (despite all evidence to the contrary… the survey must be wrong!) to push what I admit is low ridership even lower. I think speaks volumes. A certain segment of the fringe-right wants to see public works and/or green initiatives fail.

Devine added that transit services tend to see slow growth, as evidenced by the opening of the commuter rail service in Providence in 1988.
“We only had about 150 to 200 people per day for a couple of years when we first opened Providence,” said Devine. “Today, we now have over 2,000 riders per day and many more trains.”

I ride that train with some freguency. Many of my friends ride it daily. It’s a huge plus to someone in IT to know I could commute to Boston if I lost my job here in RI. I suspect you’ll see an effect on the North Kingstown real estate prices, given some time.
You folks would’ve closed the door on that rail link decades ago.

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

Well, no worries, Russ. According to Bob Plain and the RIFuture crowd, Rhode Island is run by far-right, conservative DINO politicians allied with powerful corporate interests against the working class. So any failures will shine favorably upon your progressive movement and turn more away from conservativism.

Justin Katz
Justin Katz(@justin)
8 years ago

Looks like we’ve gotten to the part of this comment thread where Russ’s initial arrogant and buffoonish inability to have a credulous (even human) conversation with people with whom he disagrees comes around to eat itself. If he wasn’t so intent on quibbling about whether my characterization of the abysmally low usage of the train accurately captured the real and actual abysmally low usage of the train, he would perhaps have noticed that I didn’t argue against public transportation, but pointed out that economic development should be a prior consideration to building infrastructure to accommodate economic activity that may never exist. If anything, my insinuation was that, now that we’ve gone and invested in the train, we have all the more reasons to get the government’s shackles off of economic activity.
In the meantime, I’m picturing the reaction of those who regularly email me — among the thousands of people who leave RI every year, and often consider themselves to have “escaped” — to the idea that a struggling economy in which tens of thousands of people are suffering the effects of economic decline should subsidize a train because left-wing Russ likes to feel like he’s got a commuter option if he has to transfer his employment to Boston. That kind of sums up leftism, doesn’t it? Wealthy people forcing everybody to pay for their security and moral vanity.
Russ, if you didn’t exist, Travis Rowley would have to invent you.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
8 years ago

Something is missing here.It’s local transportation to interface with the train.Ideally the train would terminate where the rider could transfer to light rail(trolley cars for you older people like me)and continue to work/residential/commercial destinations directly from the airport or the Wickford par and ride.I’ve seen this system work very well in the Netherlands and Belgium and apparently it’s even more extensive in Germany.High gas prices in Europe forced them into that kind of planning.Anyone fill up recently?

Russ
Russ
8 years ago

“Wealthy people forcing everybody to pay for their security and moral vanity.”
Yawn, more personal attacks and almost as if you don’t actually know anyone who relies on public transportation. Perhaps you should spend some time in the city and see who uses public transportation.
“If you didn’t exist, Travis Rowley would have to invent you.”
Why not? His imaginary world could use a few more inventions (getting kind of dull imho).

Russ
Russ
8 years ago

“Some 80% of the 1700 riders per day projected for the extension to T.F. Green…”
Wait, don’t you mean 850? Acutally, maybe one or two are making multiple trips. Let’s say, I mean “invent,” 845!

Justin Katz
Justin Katz(@justin)
8 years ago

Yawn.
More hand waving from a guy who’s provided ample evidence of his attitude and reading comprehension problem over the years. (At some point, people ought to be allowed to mention such things.)
Given my background, I daresay I might be more familiar with the public-transportation demographics than you. Be that as it may, (1) we’re talking about a specific, dedicated line to one of the wealthier parts of the state, and (2) you didn’t mention those demographics: you mentioned yourself (surprise!) and the way having access to this expensive piece of public infrastructure makes you feel.

Russ
Russ
8 years ago

btw, Joe, thought those were good points. Providence has exactly that problem when folks come off the train (I get asked all the time where Kennedy Plaza is, etc. as people walk from the station).
High gas prices here? Why would anyone plan ahead for that, eh? Forward thinking cities (metro areas) are doing just that. Jersey City which was already on the PATH installed light rail. Seen JC lately?
http://www.njtransit.com/pdf/LightRail/sf_lr_hblr_map.pdf
http://www.lightrailnow.org/news/n_hb_2006-05a.htm

Just a few years ago, the west side of Hoboken was a real-estate backwater.
Unlike the town’s booming waterfront, the neighborhoods beneath the Palisades were dominated by housing projects, abandoned factories and desolate streets. But NJ Transit’s decision to run a light rail line through the depressed area has had a dramatic effect: New luxury buildings are sprouting around two rail stops that opened last year, attracting artists and affluent new residents.
The same thing is happening up and down the 5-year-old Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line. Developers and speculators are scrambling for the chance to rejuvenate older industrial properties and aging apartments along the 19-mile line that runs from Union City to Bayonne…
“Rail is what makes these projects go,” said Jersey City Planning Director Robert Cotter. “It gives investors the confidence that is needed, because it can’t be taken away like a bus line.”

Russ
Russ
8 years ago

“At some point, people ought to be allowed to mention such things.”
Hey, go nuts. It reflects more on you than me.
“…you mentioned yourself (surprise!) and the way having access to this expensive piece of public infrastructure makes you feel.”
No, I mentioned the affect it has on attracting professionals to the state, the effect it has on housing values, speaking from personal experience and from the experience of other professionals living in Providence. But, hey, what does that have to do with anything?
And in 10 years, some will still be complaining that no one does anything about economic development. Don’t build it and they will come? How’s that working out so far?

Russ
Russ
8 years ago

“I didn’t argue against public transportation…”
No, you just passed judgement on a station not yet a year old by halving the actual ridership numbers. Whatever gave me that idea?

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

Just another example of the blatant progressive hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance that Russ typifies so well. Progressives have no hesitation about massive public investments based on their own personal preferences and lifestyle choices, all in the name of helping the poor and downtrodden while those same people are being harmed by progressive policies. If the progressives want a shiny new train line in their town, then everyone should be forced to pay for it. If they want their energy from ultra-inefficient wind or solar panels to show off to their elite liberal friends, then everyone else should be forced to subsidize those preferences. They tolerate the abhorrent abuses and failures of the Rhode Island and Providence EDCs because it means more taxpayer money to throw at their pet progressive projects (not corporate welfare when they do it). And so on. And so on. Russ has no compunction about shutting down “racist” school choice options for poor students and excoriating “rich corporations” while enrolling his own children in a wealthy, lily-white private school with money he earned by working for – shocker of shockers – a rich corporation. The egocentricism and self-deception of progressives know no bounds.

Justin Katz
Justin Katz(@justin)
8 years ago

Russ,
First of all, in no sense did you prove that I “halved the actual ridership numbers,” and you haven’t addressed the notion that my point would have been just as valid without reducing the extremely small number at all. But readers can observe for themselves your repeated MO of looking for excuses not to engage in substantive discussion that challenges your premises.
And again, I did not pass judgment on the station. I passed judgment on a system that takes money away from people in order to build stations in lieu of challenging special interest constituencies and allowing the economy to be vibrant for everybody.

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

Russ’s authority is a site called “Light Rail Progress.” You can’t make this stuff up.
On the topic of rising gas prices, the only constant in public transportation is exploding costs year-after-year that lead to service reductions and fare increases for the passangers. I saw the price of MBTA tickets nearly double in the few years I lived in Boston. Now I get to experience exponential WMATA fare jumps every year. It would be much cheaper and faster for me to drive my car to work every day than ride the metro. Unfortunately, DC doesn’t allow on-street parking for the day.

Russ
Russ
8 years ago

“my point would have been just as valid without reducing the extremely small number at all.”
Then why halve the number? As near as I can tell your point was that infrastructure investments should show full benefit in less than a year.
“I passed judgment on a system that takes money away from people in order to build stations…”
Hehe, yes, clearly you’re not against public investment in infrastructure.

Justin Katz
Justin Katz(@justin)
8 years ago

Thank you for the very clear example of your disingenuous methodology. Continue the quotation: “… in order to build stations in lieu of challenging special interest constituencies and allowing the economy to be vibrant for everybody.”

Mike678
Mike678
8 years ago

The challenge some face is irrational thinking. Reason requires that you remove emotion and look at a problem logically. A few have shown that they are incapable of moving past preconceptions/ideology: a common challenge with many progressives–and a basis for their claim the conservatives are “unfeeling.” Progressive arguments are often filled with logical fallacies (cherry picking, the straw man, ad hominems, appeals to authority, etc.).
A rational, critical thinker would ask why wickford junction used to exist and what factors caused it to close in1981. Then they would ask what factors drove the need to reopen it at great cost…factors that would drive an estimate of 1400 to 1700 riders a day.
it’s easier, however, to defend a Government project with such sage logic such as “you want it to fail”–as if our comments could do such–and “give it time” with no logical reason(s) given why things will change…thus the state should bleed millions of dollars in hope that something will change… Hope and change! Perhaps the cry of the intellectually bankrupt?

Russ
Russ
8 years ago

So your point is that rail stations prevent us from challenging “special interest constituencies?” Investments in rail connectivity is a good thing for a city/metro area irrespective of the beef you have with unions or whatever. I really have no idea what you’re talking about.
btw, this comment kind of threw me… “we’re talking about a specific, dedicated line to one of the wealthier parts of the state.” You do realize the plan is to extend the line the full length of the state to the south, yes?
http://www.dot.ri.gov/intermod/index.asp#commrail2
I don’t have any objections to a line running north, but that’s no reason to slam plans for connectivity to Westerly.
http://www.dot.ri.gov/intermod/index.asp#otherrail
And, Dan, the actual source for that was “The Jersey Journal,” which is the local paper in Hudson County. I just found the article quoted on the light rail page. Never mind that it’s true.

Russ
Russ
8 years ago

“The challenge some face is irrational thinking… Progressive arguments are often filled with logical fallacies (cherry picking, the straw man, ad hominems, appeals to authority, etc.).”
The irony here is that this is itself a strawman argument (don’t get me started on ad hominem!), that progressives operate on an emotional basis. I’m an engineer so it’s actually kind of funny to be painted as too emotional in my thought process. My wife would beg to differ (an appeal to authority if I ever heard one!).
Of course there are many reasons for the commuter rail project, not least of which the problems of congestion on routes 95 and 4 and the air quality problems of particular concern for those with children in Providence. Call that an emotional appeal if you like, but those are real costs born largely by the urban commmunity. I’ve already mentioned the economic benefits as in the case of Hudson County above and why rail is more beneficial in that regard than bus routes.

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

If you want to send a progressive spinning, just ask him in advance for objective metrics by which we can evaluate the success or failure of one of their pet projects. Instead of real metrics, we inevitably get “the stimulus will work when it works,” or in this case, “the rail project will succeed when it succeeds,” and similar tautologies. I get this form of evasion every time I point out the numerous and substantial failures of the state-run EDCs. The grants are “working” right up until whatever politically favored company goes bankrupt, and even then it’s just part of the “process.” Or if the failure is bad enough, e.g. 38 Studios, they find some creative way to pass the blame onto free-market advocates who opposed the grants in the first place.
Progressives start with the conclusion they want – that these projects are self-evidently beneficial – and any evidence to the contrary is just a matter of not letting the projects play out. Of course if the numbers were better than expected, there would be a front-page article on RIFuture touting the same and Russ would be crowing about it from the rooftops here. Just more progressive hypocrisy – one standard for everybody else, another for the elite magnanimous central planners.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
8 years ago

Russ:
“Of course there are many reasons for the commuter rail project, not least of which the problems of congestion on routes 95 and 4”
Since Rte 95 and 4 are existing, these would seem like better arguments for a more economic bus service.
Mention of the existing highways always makes me wonder why the insistence for “commuter rail” which takes away from freight service (can’t use same tracks, congestion problems). Since the rights of way are existing (interstate highways) why not a monorail? Makes more sense to me.
I might mention that the U.S. is the envy of the world with regard to freight rail, why are we eating into it with commuter use?

Mike678
Mike678
8 years ago

Ah, Russ. Recognized yourself, no? Don’t worry–with age often comes wisdom. We’ll just have to wait a bit 🙂

Russ
Russ
8 years ago

The freight rail question is an interesting one. DOT had this to say:

Early 1990s: Design work begins on the Freight Rail Improvement Project (FRIP). Aimed at improving freight connections from the Quonset Business Park in the North Kingstown to the national freight rail system, the improved track allows extra capacity in the corridor for commuter rail service.

David S
David S
8 years ago

Justin You are right and right on about ridership. That cannot be denied. But, as usual, your rightness is about a 10 percent solution. In other words, you are mostly wrong. The assumption you make that the economic activity has to be there first in order to justify public spending just does not jibe with history. The first trolley line out of Providence extended well south of the established borders of that city. The trolley line went down Broadway all the way into the rural area of Cranston. The lower part of Broadway became developed because the trolley line was there. Similarly, the trolley line out of NYC in the 1920’s had a turnaround in the Meadowlands of New Jersey. Weekend travelers out of the city would picnic at the end of the line- aka giants stadium. It certainly was not a big economic hub then. Your assumption that building it first is a mistake is not borne out in our recent history.
What is the difference? Why is there no longer a trust and a belief in the future?

Justin Katz
Justin Katz(@justin)
8 years ago

The difference between the 1920s, and the early days of trollies and today is HUGE. There may be no trollies to South Kingstown, but there sure are a lot of roads, and Americans sure have a lot of cars. The ability to get from suburban or even rural areas into Providence is not an impediment to growth. Even rush hour traffic isn’t that bad by the standards of other cities.
Building transportation in preparation for economic growth only makes sense where it’s clear that a lack of transportation is the problem. (And I mean the economic problem for individuals to work; not a philosophical problem for sustainable-development types.)
In pure economic terms, it wouldn’t make sense to have trains crisscrossing the state until the rush hour traffic were actively an impediment to further economic growth. I don’t think we ought to operate on purely economic terms, but my argument on the specific subject of this post is that the evidence seems to indicate that we’re nowhere near a point in our economic development that this sort of infrastructure is clearly a good investment… by any measure. (I’d have to look into it, but I imagine even in environmental terms, there’s a point at which individuals taking automobiles is preferable to the footprint and energy usage of a whole train, and I suspect trains that are mostly empty don’t exceed that point.)

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
8 years ago

David S.
“Similarly, the trolley line out of NYC in the 1920’s had a turnaround in the Meadowlands of New Jersey.”
Since where transportation goes (roads, or otherwise) is a political question, it might be wise to investigate the past. Who owned the developable land along, or at the end, of the route. I certainly saw a lot of this when it came to road building in Florida. The road extensions always seemed to favor land owned by politicians. I suspect it is everywhere. Obviously, if there are two remote parcels, the one favored by transportation will be developed first.
As to what was done in the early 20th century, we should not assume that all ancient motivations were pure. Might be interesting to know who owned the property accessed by the Appian Way.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
8 years ago

David S.
“Similarly, the trolley line out of NYC in the 1920’s had a turnaround in the Meadowlands of New Jersey.”
Since where transportation goes (roads, or otherwise) is a political question, it might be wise to investigate the past. Who owned the developable land along, or at the end, of the route. I certainly saw a lot of this when it came to road building in Florida. The road extensions always seemed to favor land owned by politicians. I suspect it is everywhere. Obviously, if there are two remote parcels, the one favored by transportation will be developed first.
As to what was done in the early 20th century, we should not assume that all ancient motivations were pure. Might be interesting to know who owned the property accessed by the Appian Way.

Phil Spadola
Phil Spadola
8 years ago

Justin
Almost $4 a gallon for gasoline certainly has an impact on economic
activity.
“In pure economic terms, it wouldn’t make sense to have trains crisscrossing the state until the rush hour traffic were actively an impediment to further economic growth.” J Katz
Rush hour is not even a factor here. I don’t go to work quahogging on days that I think that I may not dig enough clams to make my daily income and pay the high cost of fuel that it would take for me to travel by boat to the shellfishing grounds. That is certainly not good for me or the economy. Inconvenience due to traffic is not what most people face in RI. It’s the high price we pay for vehicles , insurance and now fuel. We need in the coming years alternatives to what we have grown dependent upon and is not proving to be a help to the economy. I think that the beginning of implementing new solutions and alternatives is difficult and hard just as is beginning any new enterprise, be it a new business or a new blog’ such as “the Ocean State Current”. It’s not too difficult to see that you have had a difficult time attracting comments to your new venture. Are we to think of the “Current” the way you suggest we view this new infrastructure effort by state government. Taxpayers, obviously, are supporting the government’s infrastructure improvement. Who is underwriting “the Current”, which judging by the paucity of the traffic at that site, makes the Wickford Station look like Grand Central.

Justin Katz
Justin Katz(@justin)
8 years ago

Two points on the Current/Station comparison:
1. On a typical day, more people visit the Ocean State Current than ride the Wickford train, and on its best month, so far, the Current had about six times more visitors than the train had in its best month.
2. The long thread of comments above are in effect being made to the essay that I put on the Current. If the goal of the people funding that site is to spark serious consideration of right-leaning ideas, I’d say they should be satisfied.
The more important rhetorical point, though, is that nobody has been made to pay for the Current on the grounds that powerful people think its existence is worthwhile. We certainly didn’t print money or borrow from future generations to fund it! If private investment had built the Wickford Station, it would overall be a different conversation… although I’d still be making the point that getting the RI economy going is the critical piece to making the venture a success.

Phil Spadola
Phil Spadola
8 years ago

1. How do you know that?
2. Are you saying the Anchor rising blog is the same as “the Current”?
Do the same entities fund both blogs?

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

In a properly functioning society, the burden is squarely on those who would confiscate the public’s earnings to justify these expensive projects in advance. Advocates should present their evidence and projections, and they should be held accountable when their projections don’t match up with reality. Instead the central planners of Rhode Island and their progressive cheerleaders have a heads-we-win, tails-you-lose scenario in which no scenario can be classified as a failure on their constantly shifting cost models and arbitrary timescales, and whatever limited successes they do achieve are heralded as compelling evidence for doubling down in all areas of government expansion.

Justin Katz
Justin Katz(@justin)
8 years ago

1. I know because the linked article gives the stats for the train, and I track the stats for the Current.
2. No, I’m saying that, if the goal of the Current isn’t to grow readership on that particular URL, but to help start conversations, it isn’t hugely significant that the conversations happen a step away.
Anchor Rising is funded by a handful of low-amount donations. This site exists only because the contributors make it so.

Russ
Russ
8 years ago

“In a properly functioning society, the burden is squarely on those who would confiscate the public’s earnings to justify these expensive projects in advance.”
Of course the intermodal rail project was extensively studied and various options considered including impact on rail freight service. It’s willful ignorance to suggest otherwise. The studies are available on the DOT site.

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