Zip Rail cost estimates appear too low, revenue projections too high
Zip Rail. It's all the rage, among a few politicos, that is. As usual, supporters continue to underestimate costs while overestimating revenues. Let's look at a few of the statements from some elected officials.
Olmsted County Commissioner Ken Brown estimated the price at a few billion dollars. Twelve years ago, Apple Valley's This Week newspaper published estimated costs for future rail projects. A high-speed line from the airport to Coates (11.5 miles) was estimated at more than $4 billion. Brown may want to add two or three zeros to his estimate. He also stated it will be profitable from day one and require no subsidies. I recall the same being said for Jesse Ventura's Choo-choo. Several years later, the Minneapolis paper reported ridership was exceeding expectations. Then buried near the article's end was the statement that "operating costs exceeded revenues by $15 million." Will Brown guarantee to cover any deficit from his income?
State Rep. Kim Norton said several private entities are willing to fund the project. Great. Let them fund it all and collect the profits for their risking their money. Would you take the risk? Neither will they. Unfortunately, she didn't name these entities, so we cannot check her claim. She also states it is "geared toward serving commuters." How many commuters are going to spend $15,000 a year to ride this debacle?