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(Seattle) Monorail's building, debt costs balloon to $11 billion (sold to voters as $2 billion!)
Seattle Post-Intelligence ^ | 6/22/05 | JANE HADLEY

Posted on 06/22/2005 10:31:07 AM PDT by Diddle E. Squat

t will cost more than $11 billion to pay for the 14-mile monorail Green Line project and the debt to finance it, according to documents made public yesterday.

That's more than triple what Sound Transit will pay for construction and debt service for its 14-mile light rail line from downtown Seattle to Tukwila.

The total also is more than five times the construction tab alone for the monorail, a ratio that troubles state Treasurer Mike Murphy.

"You've got to be kidding me," Murphy said yesterday. "That's ludicrous."

He said the typical principal and interest payments on a state project amount to double the construction cost of the project. That ratio would suggest a total cost of less than $4 billion for the $1.9 billion monorail.

Monorail officials said Monday that they would overcome budget obstacles by extending collection of a Seattle car-tab tax until 2050 or beyond. Murphy said the state ordinarily does not issue bonds longer than 25 years, because there is no "economic advantage."

In addition, the monorail expects to pay higher interest rates than Sound Transit -- up to 7 or 8 percent for junk bonds, which will pay for part of the project Seattle voters narrowly approved in 2002.

The monorail has been forced into some unconventional financing arrangements because the project is about 20 percent more expensive than expected and because its motor-vehicle excise tax revenue is 30 percent less than expected. Seattle residents pay 1.4 percent annually of the state-calculated value of their vehicles.

OnTrack, which bills itself as a monorail watchdog group, was critical of the tax extension plan.

"There's a huge price with extending the term of the bonds out as long as they're going," said OnTrack policy analyst Krista Camenzind, calling $11 billion "an amazing amount of money to pay for bonds."

"The kids who graduated from high school this month will be paying this monorail tax for their entire working life and maybe into their retirement, but they had no say in planning or approving the Green Line," she said.

City Councilman Richard Conlin, who has been a monorail skeptic, said it's too early to draw any conclusions, but he added: "When I heard there was 45 years of payments, it's troubling. I really need to look at that very carefully."

Of the $11 billion in debt service, he said, "That's a ton of money."

The City Council must ultimately approve construction of the West Seattle to Crown Hill line on city streets.

Longtime monorail critic Henry Aronson said the extended tax bite would make it difficult and perhaps impossible for Seattle to pay for other transportation projects, such as any future monorail lines, extending light rail or replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the state Route 520 bridge.

"The monorail board seems perfectly happy to mortgage four generations of taxpayers to pay for one-fifth of the monorail plan offered to the voters in 2002," he said.

Monorail spokeswoman Natasha Jones said the $11 billion number looks big because it includes inflated future dollars.

"It does look like a big number when you get out that far," she said. "We opted to spread that over a larger period of time. These are choices we all make in our everyday life. Do you pay off your mortgage in 15 years or do you spread it out over 30 years?"

Jones noted that the monorail is a "tangible asset," not clothes or food or a trip. "This is a 100-year system we're aiming for," she said.

It's reasonable not to put the entire cost on current users, she said.

Paying for future extensions of the monorail or other transportation projects "is a discussion the community will need to have," she said. "They can look at federal dollars or other taxing mechanisms."

Murphy, the state treasurer, said he ordinarily does not get involved in local issues but made an exception for the monorail.

"I have a several-inch-thick file on these guys. Everything I have seen just does not pencil out," he said. Murphy says he does not believe the monorail will have enough income from the car tab tax to pay for the debt.

He said the monorail's finance director, Jonathan Buchter, recently asked for a meeting, but Murphy told Buchter he had already met several times with him and "now I want to meet with your board." A meeting is set for early July. State Auditor Brian Sonntag, who is also concerned about the project, also plans to be present.

"When we see folks going off the deep end, we feel it's important to comment on it," Murphy said. "The number keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger and they haven't turned a spade of dirt yet. That's the issue for me. I would never ever, ever indebt the state of Washington in the way they are indebting the citizens of the city of Seattle. It's unconscionable what they're doing."

The Seattle Monorail Project released its voluminous report Monday detailing finances. Buchter has insisted that the numbers do pencil out. However, he was gone yesterday and will be for the rest of the week, Jones said.

Murphy said the monorail "did a tricky thing" when it told voters debt would be capped at $1.5 billion in 2002 dollars. That means that the debt is "an open-ended deal" and the more time passes, the higher the debt cap is.

Richard Borkowski, president of People for Modern Transit, said there are many uncertainties hanging over the project.

"The price keeps going up and they're delivering much less than what was voted on," he said. "They're buying fewer trains, the frequency is less, there are fewer stations."

Jones said the critics have been claiming "the sky is falling" for the past three years.

"We've risen to every challenge that's been thrown our way," she said. "We've been able to do all the things critics have said we couldn't do. We've done a great thing. We've delivered an elevated-automated transit system citizens have been clamoring for decades."

The project will bring 2,100 jobs every year for construction, she noted. The monorail is scheduled to open Dec. 1, 2010.

MONORAIL COSTS

To pay for the 14-mile monorail project and the debt to finance it, more than $11 billion will be required. That's more than triple what Sound Transit will pay for construction and debt service for its 14-mile light rail line from downtown Seattle to Tukwila.

# Monorail construction costs and debt service: $11 billion.

# Sound Transit's Central Line construction cost and debt service: $3.24 billion.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Extended News; Front Page News; News/Current Events; US: Florida; US: Indiana; US: Washington
KEYWORDS: boondoggle; corruption; democratmath; homerisaconductor; kingcountymath; lylelaney; margeisagainstit; minoradjustment; minorerrorrail; monorail; monorailmongocost; ohwegottrouble; oopsididitagain; pagingwilliegreen; profharoldhill; righthereinrivercity; seattlehonesty; shelbyville; sorrywillie; springfield; theft; transportation; truthingovt; waste
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Oops, minor math error, looks like it will cost 5.5 times as much as what was told to the voters prior to the election. Somehow Seattle and King County always find a way to double and triple(or apparently quintuple) the cost of transportation costruction elsewhere. Can't blame it all on terrain.
1 posted on 06/22/2005 10:31:13 AM PDT by Diddle E. Squat
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BTW, I added Florida to the topics because St. Petersburg just approved a new very expensive monorail plan, despite the objections of their own transportation planners.


2 posted on 06/22/2005 10:32:50 AM PDT by Diddle E. Squat
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To: Diddle E. Squat
They should have let Disney put in their system.


3 posted on 06/22/2005 10:34:15 AM PDT by My2Cents
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To: Diddle E. Squat

Don't tell Willie Green.


4 posted on 06/22/2005 10:34:47 AM PDT by BeHoldAPaleHorse
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To: Diddle E. Squat
NO!

It can't be!

5 posted on 06/22/2005 10:35:17 AM PDT by Petronski (Be alert! The world needs more lerts.)
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To: Diddle E. Squat
It is always the same story with government. Corporate execs are going to prison for the phony math they sold to the public. One might say it's time for politicians to get the same treatment.
6 posted on 06/22/2005 10:36:16 AM PDT by Patti_ORiley
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To: Diddle E. Squat

And this figure doesn't even include the cost of the big metal "M" that an engineer will have to use as an anchor after the brakes fail.


7 posted on 06/22/2005 10:37:25 AM PDT by niteowl77 (One more straw will do it...)
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To: Willie Green

I've got bad news, that has nothing to do with Geico...


8 posted on 06/22/2005 10:37:25 AM PDT by Diddle E. Squat
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To: Diddle E. Squat

Oh heck, it's only money. The liberals will get it from the greedy and the rich and the voters in Seattle will love it. They'll love it so much the same liberal dimocraps will be back in office next term.


9 posted on 06/22/2005 10:38:05 AM PDT by caisson71
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To: Diddle E. Squat
Willie Green will tell us the cost overruns were predictable. Besides, it makes the Emerald City look "cool." The brain-dead Seattle liberal voters are not going to care that its $9 billion more than they thought they would pay for it. Heck, they got the transportation system they wanted.

(Denny Crane: "Sometimes you can only look for answers from God and failing that... and Fox News".)
10 posted on 06/22/2005 10:38:35 AM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: Diddle E. Squat

And in NYC the antis went banana over less than $1 billion for the West Side Stadium which is now dead.


11 posted on 06/22/2005 10:38:40 AM PDT by finnman69 (cum puella incedit minore medio corpore sub quo manifestus globus, inflammare animos)
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To: Willie Green

Boondoggle ping!


12 posted on 06/22/2005 10:38:43 AM PDT by Phantom Lord (Fall on to your knees for the Phantom Lord)
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To: Diddle E. Squat

Now does that get financed by the 9.5 cent gasoline tax increase passed earlier this year by the fraudulent demoncRAT gov (Fraudoire) and demoncRAT-controlled legislature or does that get paid by the $3.8 billion tax increase to the general fund again passed by the infamous demoncRATS earlier this year after gutting people's initiative 601 requiring a supermajority (60%) to pass any new tax increases?


13 posted on 06/22/2005 10:38:43 AM PDT by lilylangtree
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To: Diddle E. Squat
this reminds me of Boston Big Dig.

Congress approved construction of the project was US $ 2.5 billion. Final costs: US $ 14.6 billions

14 posted on 06/22/2005 10:39:07 AM PDT by Random Nonsense
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To: Diddle E. Squat

I am shocked.......(yawn)......liberal Seattle gets screwed by their own politicians.........


15 posted on 06/22/2005 10:39:17 AM PDT by Red Badger (The Army makes the world safe for democracy. The Marines make the world safe for the Army.....)
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To: Diddle E. Squat

Now I got that Simpsons song in my head.


16 posted on 06/22/2005 10:40:15 AM PDT by NotSoFreeStater
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To: Diddle E. Squat; Willie Green

Hey! It's my job to poke Willie in the ribs over failed and/or expensive rail transportation!


17 posted on 06/22/2005 10:42:20 AM PDT by Incorrigible (If I lead, follow me; If I pause, push me; If I retreat, kill me.)
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To: Diddle E. Squat

They must have consulted the Masachusetts Big Dig pooh-bas


18 posted on 06/22/2005 10:42:33 AM PDT by 1Old Pro
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To: Diddle E. Squat

St.Pete is still bedazzled by the socialist twaddle from the St. Pete Times. That rag is owned by the Poynter Institute which is as far left as the NY Times.

Let such areas go broke. Then the governmet assets can be sold off and small government actualized when big government goes broke.

If bonds are to be defaulted on, then the taxing authority will have to raise taxes. Eventually, the socialists who voted for these projects will have to sell their homes for whatever they can get when the tax burden becomes too high.

Isn't that just wonderful! The free market has built in mechanisms to punish socialists. :-)


19 posted on 06/22/2005 10:43:26 AM PDT by GladesGuru ("In a society predicated upon liberty, it is essential to examine principles)
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To: Diddle E. Squat

Lyle Lanley: Well, sir, there's nothing on earth Like a genuine, Bona fide, Electrified, Six-car Monorail! What'd I say?

Ned Flanders: Monorail!

Lyle Lanley: What's it called?

Patty+Selma: Monorail!

Lyle Lanley: That's right! Monorail!

[crowd chants `Monorail' softly and rhythmically]

Miss Hoover: I hear those things are awfully loud...

Lyle Lanley: It glides as softly as a cloud.

Apu: Is there a chance the track could bend?

Lyle Lanley: Not on your life, my Hindu friend.

Barney: What about us brain-dead slobs?

Lyle Lanley: You'll be given cushy jobs.

Abe: Were you sent here by the devil?

Lyle Lanley: No, good sir, I'm on the level.

Wiggum: The ring came off my pudding can.

Lyle Lanley: Take my pen knife, my good man.

I swear it's Springfield's only choice... Throw up your hands and raise your voice!

All: Monorail!

Lyle Lanley: What's it called?

All: Monorail!

Lyle Lanley: Once again...

All: Monorail!

Marge: But Main Street's still all cracked and broken...

Bart: Sorry, Mom, the mob has spoken!

All: Monorail! Monorail! Monorail!

[big finish]

Monorail!

Homer: Mono... D'oh!

20 posted on 06/22/2005 10:45:59 AM PDT by thefactor
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To: Phantom Lord

But don't you know! If we just close ourselves off from foreign trade and build monorails everywhere our economic problems will be solved!


21 posted on 06/22/2005 10:46:26 AM PDT by Betaille ("Within the covers of the Bible are all the answers for all the problems men face." -Ronald Reagan)
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To: Diddle E. Squat

"The project will bring 2,100 jobs every year for construction, she noted."

Ever heard of broken window fallacy? Maybe this explains why Willie Green supports it.


22 posted on 06/22/2005 10:48:16 AM PDT by Betaille ("Within the covers of the Bible are all the answers for all the problems men face." -Ronald Reagan)
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To: NotSoFreeStater
Monorail
23 posted on 06/22/2005 10:48:52 AM PDT by Pyro7480 ("All my own perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded upon Our Lady." - Tolkien)
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To: Diddle E. Squat
"The kids who graduated from high school this month will be paying this monorail tax for their entire working life and maybe into their retirement, but they had no say in planning or approving the Green Line," she said.

No, they won't - they'll just move out of Seattle. ;)

24 posted on 06/22/2005 10:54:06 AM PDT by Mr. Jeeves ("Violence never settles anything." Genghis Khan, 1162-1227)
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To: Petronski

color me shocked.

A public transporation project running over budget?

Next thing you know, celebrities in LA will be able to get away with murder.


25 posted on 06/22/2005 10:54:50 AM PDT by flashbunny
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To: flashbunny; Willie Green

D'oh!


26 posted on 06/22/2005 10:56:09 AM PDT by Petronski (Be alert! The world needs more lerts.)
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To: Diddle E. Squat

"The project will bring 2,100 jobs every year for construction, she noted."

You could do the same thing by hiring a group of people to break car windows and another group to repair the same car windows. Voila! Employment for a bunch of people!


27 posted on 06/22/2005 10:57:16 AM PDT by flashbunny
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To: Random Nonsense

"Final Costs?" BWA HA BWA HA HA HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. gasp.


28 posted on 06/22/2005 10:58:28 AM PDT by massgopguy (massgopguy)
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To: Diddle E. Squat

The Dem mayor of Indianapolis is promoting a monorail/light rail system, and the Indianapolis Star (once conservative, but now that it is owned by Gannett, its editorial policy has "grown") is promoting it relentlessly.


29 posted on 06/22/2005 10:58:52 AM PDT by oblomov
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To: Diddle E. Squat

We gotta get I-912 on the Ballot.....these dufuses in Seattle are just HELPING us along!!!


30 posted on 06/22/2005 10:59:55 AM PDT by goodnesswins (Our military......the world's HEROES!)
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To: goldstategop
Besides, it makes the Emerald City look "cool."

Dead on!

Despite the fact that it doesn't go from anywhere important Like downtown) to anywhere important (like the airport), the leftist toilet-drinkers here locally are "pee~their~pants" excited about paying excessive fees for decades over this!
31 posted on 06/22/2005 11:01:21 AM PDT by rockrr (Gregorovych Nyet!)
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To: massgopguy
let me make a correction: Final cost so far :)
32 posted on 06/22/2005 11:04:12 AM PDT by Random Nonsense
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To: oblomov

Indiana government, both state and local, is FUBAR. I can't remember a time when I have disagreed more with the decisions they are making. Monorails, handouts to the Colts, DST, sin taxes, the list goes on and on.


33 posted on 06/22/2005 11:05:30 AM PDT by mysterio
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To: rockrr

Well, you get what you pay for and Washington got this administration. Good luck to them.

One good thing, in 2008 they can blame Gregorie for it.


34 posted on 06/22/2005 11:07:54 AM PDT by EQAndyBuzz (Liberal Talking Point - Bush = Hitler ... Republican Talking Point - Let the Liberals Talk)
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To: thefactor

LOL! I love that episode! Seattle voters must not watch 'The Simpsons', too bad for them.


35 posted on 06/22/2005 11:15:35 AM PDT by fortunecookie
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To: EQAndyBuzz

DEMWITS.


36 posted on 06/22/2005 11:23:19 AM PDT by jocko12
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To: Diddle E. Squat
Yet another stupid example of public transportation boondoggles financed on the back of taxpayers. Most of the taxpayers will never even have a need or opportunity to use the monorail boondoggle in Seattle. They will have the pleasure of paying for front end alignments made necessary by potholes that were not fixed because of money stolen by the monorail project. Just plain stupid.
37 posted on 06/22/2005 11:27:10 AM PDT by Myrddin
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To: Diddle E. Squat

Pretty expensive homeless shelter...

(who else is going to ride it??)


38 posted on 06/22/2005 11:28:13 AM PDT by SweetPilotofCanuckistan (DeLay/Laura Bush '08!)
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To: Diddle E. Squat

Unless they're actuall done, double it.


39 posted on 06/22/2005 11:28:37 AM PDT by Wolfie
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To: Random Nonsense
this reminds me of Boston Big Dig.

My first thought when I saw the article was if the monorail was referred to as "The Big Lift."

40 posted on 06/22/2005 11:30:30 AM PDT by N. Theknow (If Social Security is so good - why aren't members of Congress in it?)
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To: finnman69
And in NYC the antis went banana over less than $1 billion for the West Side Stadium which is now dead.

Perhaps they knew the estimate was as worthless as this one.

41 posted on 06/22/2005 11:30:53 AM PDT by Wolfie
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To: thefactor

I hate it when I'm not quick enough.


42 posted on 06/22/2005 11:37:27 AM PDT by eyespysomething ( A penny saved is a government oversight)
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To: Diddle E. Squat

Anyone who has ever ridden the existing monorail on a (rare)hot summer day in Seattle will tell you it is like being a bug under a magnifying glass. Hop the new one is better. They will have to run a lot of tourists on the thing to recover 11 Billion. I predict a typical unused mass transit failure


43 posted on 06/22/2005 11:40:37 AM PDT by commonasdirt (Reading DU so you won't hafta)
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To: All

Don't you get it...this is Seattle math. $2 billion means $11 billion...once they do their "studies", environmental impacts, assessments, and then hire 100 union guys to stand around and look busy. Then they get their paid breaks, lunchs, disappearing while works.

I hate Seattle...I guess that is why I only work in it and live far outside the city.


44 posted on 06/22/2005 11:42:50 AM PDT by Abram
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To: Diddle E. Squat
"This is a 100-year system we're aiming for," she said.

And there is part of the problem. Consider ... 100 years ago, where was the automobile? the airplane? Would it make sense to lock in the technology of the Model-T or the Wright flyer? When they exceed the expected technological life span to make the financing work, it is a problem. A huge one. All you have here are pigs at the public trough.

45 posted on 06/22/2005 11:46:55 AM PDT by NonValueAdded (Same stuff, different democRAT [this tagline rated PG-13])
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To: Diddle E. Squat

~$1,000,000,000 per mile. Hmmm..... Buying chauffered limosines for all the actual users would be cheaper.


46 posted on 06/22/2005 11:54:33 AM PDT by Faraday
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To: Faraday
Heck, a private, chauffeur driven helicopter ride for every rider would be cheaper!

"Where the hell are our hover cars? They promised us hover cars!" - "Red" Forman, That 70's Show
47 posted on 06/22/2005 12:23:25 PM PDT by rockrr (Gregorovych Nyet!)
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To: Diddle E. Squat

Original projected cost: $2 billion

Updated projected cost: $11 billion

Actual cost: Priceless, because the Environuts in Seattle will be assuaging their consciences by doing something for the Earth, and that can't be measured in monetary costs.


48 posted on 06/22/2005 12:28:53 PM PDT by Guillermo (The last competent French General lies in Napoleon's Tomb.)
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To: flashbunny
"You could do the same thing by hiring a group of people to break car windows and another group to repair the same car windows. Voila! Employment for a bunch of people! don't say that. you'll only encourage our MN legislators.
49 posted on 06/22/2005 12:33:42 PM PDT by Rakkasan1 (don't piss on my koran and tell me it's raining.)
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To: Diddle E. Squat
Light rail, monorail, subway etc. systems are not cost-effective to build now. Express bus systems (Bus Rapid Transit) are much cheaper and they get the job done just as effectively, if not more so.

Chapter 3: Curitiba Experience

Bus Rapid Transit Policy Center

One item in a presentation about the Dulles Rail program outside of DC indicated that BRT will replace a planned monorail expansion in Las Vegas.

50 posted on 06/22/2005 12:38:16 PM PDT by cogitator
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