Friday, August 21, 2009

Consider Total Cost When Considering the Kansas City Light Rail

I was perusing some news articles this morning when I read that Kansas City's finest will be hosting some sobriety checkpoints over the weekend. While they obviously will not release the location, they did say that they are to be held in areas known to have rates of DUI-related accidents and arrests. It got me to thinking. I wonder how much it costs to have enough police officers, cars, and equipment on site from 10:00 P.M. to the wee hours of the morning in order to catch drunk drivers. My guess, is it is quite a bit. I wonder how many DUI's could be avoided if Kansas City provided sufficient public transportation.

I don't believe a vast majority of those that have been arrested for DUI wanted to be driving under the influence. I just don't think many of them have much of a choice. Yeah. I know. They could call a cab. The problem is that Kansas City is very spread out as metropolitan areas go. It can cost up to $60.00 or more to take a cab a mere 10 miles in this city. That is, of course, assuming you can find one that will say they will come to get you and then actually show up within 2 hours.

So what is the alternative to the cost of taxi cabs, DUI checkpoints, lawyer's fees, jailing costs, and most importantly, fatalities that could easily be avoided. It's easy. The Light Rail. In 2008, the ever educated voters in the Kansas City metro defeated a proposal to fund the inaugural link of the Light Rail in Kansas City. For most, I believe they didn't want their taxes raised. Others don't like the idea of public transit. Yet others probably don't care about helping out the drunks.

Let's set the record straight. If you have ever visited a real large city, you would know that most every major metropolitan area has some sort of Light Rail. They generally serve many purposes. Obviously, the reason that is near and dear to my heart is keeping drunk drivers off the road. This is easily accomplished in city's with the light rail. You go out and have a good time. You pay a few buck to get on the light rail. You get off the light rail at your desired station. Their is generally a cab or group of cabs to run you home for under $10.00. No DUI, no fatalities, no lawyer fees, and low and behold, the cops in Kansas City could actually focus on crime instead of hunting down drunk drivers.
Don't like that argument? What about the green movement? Check out some facts from the Kansas City Transit Vision.
  • Kansas City's labor force loses approximately $570 million in productivity while waiting in traffic.
  • 12% of Kansas City area adults do not own a car.
  • Rush hour congestion has more than tripled between 1983 and 2003.
  • The current transit service meets only half of the demand for people with disabilities.
Just think about the money and emissions that could be saved by the number of people that could enjoy the light rail. Instead of idling in rush hour traffic, you could ride the light rail and continue to be productive, while reducing global warming.

Overall, I think people have been short-sided when considering the proposition of the light rail system in Kansas City. The next time this comes up on the ballot, I would like Kansas City voters to look at the total cost, or savings, of the light rail. Look at the cost savings, the environmental savings, and most important, the savings of lives needlessly taken from us every year. I think if you look at it, the cost is relatively small.

1 comment:

Tobin Truog said...

KC News,

I totally agree. There are many other such "long term" costs that can be alleviated or offset by having the option of light rail. My experience has been that in other cities when it is available, people really use it. And even those who were anti come to love it. The best example was living in Atlanta and working at CNN during the Olympics.

When people knew they had to use it, then they did and they liked it!

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