Sunday, April 10, 2016

Proposed Northern Virginia BRT Costs $23 Million Per Mile

Artist's rendering of Northern Virginia Route 7 BRT
Advance Indiana continues to track bus rapid transit systems underway or proposed in other cities and evidence continues to mount that IndyGo is lying to the Indianapolis public when it claims it can build a more than 13-mile first phase of the Red Line for just $96 million, or about $7 million a mile. Advance Indiana's research shows that experts peg the costs of a BRT at between $15 and $25 million per mile. There is no BRT our research has found that was built as cheaply as what IndyGo claims it can build the Red Line.

The Washington Post has a story on a proposed 11-mile BRT in Northern Virginia along Route 7. The BRT with dedicated bus lanes running from the Spring Hill Metro station in Tysons to the Mark Center in Alexandria is estimated to cost between $250 and $270 million to construct. That works out to a minimum cost of $23 million and as much as $25 million per mile. The BRT is expected to attract as many as 9,500 new riders per day and cost $18 million annually to operate. IndyGo estimates its annual operating budget will grow $38 million a year to operate up to 3 BRT lines it hopes to build over the next five years, which it says will be financed with a quarter percent increase in the local income tax rate it wants voters to approve at a referendum this November.

Incredibly, IndyGo claims it can construct the Red Line, Blue Line and Purple Line over the next five years for a cost of just $390 million. It says it will rely on federal grants to fund 60% of the capital construction costs, which it admits doesn't include large expenditures that will have to be made by DPW on complimentary infrastructure improvements to support those new BRT lines. None of the numbers touted by IndyGo add up, but neither Mayor Joe Hogsett nor the Indianapolis City-County Council leaders are willing to ask any tough questions of the proponents. The powers that be have decided they're going to get their BRT lines by hook or crook, and they don't give a damn how they're going to pay for it or how much it will cost.

What is clear is that the quarter percent income tax increase won't come close to covering the capital and operating costs of the new projects, and federal grants aren't going to get the project done. The goal seems to be to sink $96 million into the first phase of the Red Line, force through a tax increase to support it and worry later about where the money is going to come from to pay for the true costs of a multi-BRT system that is envisioned. This from the same administration that complains in today's Indianapolis Star that the city has a serious structural budget deficit problem of $50 million. The Indianapolis media is conspiring with the corrupt civic and business leaders behind this latest boondoggle to conceal the BRT's true costs from the public. We can no longer trust our elected officials or our media to speak honestly about anything that's happening in our community.

Gov. Mike Pence and state lawmakers share the blame for this latest fraud being perpetrated on Marion County taxpayers. They wrote a law that set forth certain requirements that had to be met before a local income tax could be levied to support a BRT. IndyGo officiails are already ignoring that law's requirement that fare box receipts make up at least 25% of the operating costs of the BRT. Nobody at the state level is supervising IndyGo's plans to ensure compliance with the state law's compliance, and Mayor Hogsett and City-County Council leaders don't care. They just know that their campaign contributors stand to make a lot of money off the project and that's all that concerns them.

As a side note, I thought readers would like to know who sits on the board of directors which overseas IndyGo. The board members are: Danny Crenshaw-Chairman (President & CEO Crenshaw Insurance); Alan Rowland-Vice Chair (CompTIA Academy, Bus. Dev. Mgr.); Juan Gonzalez (Sr. VP, Key Bank); Tommie Jones (Owner, Jones Property, LLC); Greg Hahn (lobbyist/attorney, Bose McKinney); Mark Fisher (lobbyist, Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce); and Greg Bedan (lobbyist, Third House Group). How do you like the idea that you have three lobbyists on this single board?

These esteemed board members, at least the five present, spent zero time debating the approval of the plan to go forward with raising $56 million a year through a quarter percent increase in your local income tax rate to pay for the additional costs of operating three new BRT lines to be constructed over the next 5 years after hearing a brief 5-minute presentation. Board members were told there was virtually no opposition to the plan other than a couple of negative comments. Since the added operating costs are supposedly just $38 million annually, that leaves a cushion of $18 million a year for additional annual spending from this higher income tax increase. There will be no property tax relief for property owners already taxed to support IndyGo. IndyGo says 15% of the annual costs for the BRT will be used for debt service. About 60% will come from federal grant money and a quarter of the costs will come from local revenue sources.


Flogger said...

I do not suppose anyone in an Official Capacity has ever calculated the cost of just expanding the existing system in lieu of this new scheme.

The Star and the rest of McMega-Media use the propaganda approach of Build it and they Will Come. They have their scrip and mouth and print the words. Alternatives and options to what exists will not be entertained.

Anonymous said... I suppose the City Clowncil will get around to answering questions but it might take an ant hill and some honey. The deficit in City Structure of finance is squarely a deficit of structure in the City Clowncil. There is no stiffness in their spines or gonads. The most stiffness they have comes from their tightly wound knee pads.
They have basically been transformed into crumb catchers. The average dope thinks civic leaders are Shepherds. The nominally Christian knows them to be hirelings. The ruse used is to blame Ballard or Peterson or Hogsett. when it is clear that we either have a fiscal body or we don't. So, who is actually hiring these hirelings? What sort of gang of even marginal fiscal sorts can't cut a mere $50,000,000 of bloat?

Anonymous said...

Your picture is not rapid transit, of any sort. That's just a bus hogging up street lanes that belong to cars.

This is bus rapid transit:

If they want "Bus Rapid Transit," they should close the Monon Trail and convert that right of way to dedicated busways.

This is BRT

Look down at the road passing under the bridge. That's a highway solely devoted to bus transit. No cars are allowed on it. It works just like a train line, with stations, except the vehicles are buses.

Real BRT can be a good idea.

These Agenda 21 urban planners don't want real BRT. In their war on cars, the liberals want to destroy surface streets and stick the BRT label on the abomination.

Gary R. Welsh said...

The Northern Virginia rendering may look less impressive than IndyGo's renderings for the Red Line, but its price tag is more than triple the per-mile cost.

Anonymous said...

I know what you're trying to say, that Indianapolis is pulling a Brainard and deliberately underestimating the cost just to get the project started. That's a good observation to make, but please don't let them call what is just a war on driving "Bus Rapid Transit."

They're using the name of a potentially decent idea to hide what is nothing more than a very nefarious Agenda 21 war on driving.

This plan to destroy College Avenue has been in motion for a few years and is highly coordinated. Ballard is a central villain in the conspiracy. College is criminally narrow and underbuilt and is one of Indianapolis' most dangerous intersections, but a couple years ago, they built a grossly overwide sidewalk on the east side of College, running from 71st St. to 75th St., for the sole purpose of saying "We can't widen College Avenue. There's a 'trail' there."

It's obvious to all prudent urban planners that Colleg Avenue needs to be widened. It's still murky why Indianapolis is declaring war on itself by attacking one of its few North-South streets.

Look at a map of Indianapolis. Find the North-South streets in the middle of the city that start downtown and serve the North Side. There's Keystone, College, Meridian. That's it. Michigan angles. Allisonville angles. West of Meridian, Indianapolis doesn't have another major North-South street. East of Keystone, it's the same thing. None of the North-South routes run for very long. For some unknown reason, Indianapolis wants to destroy 33% of its North-South access.

If there were an Interstate running next to Meridian from downtown to Carmel, the closure of College might be more tolerable, but Indianapolis hates highways. The Indianapolis road system is horrible.

Why is a landlocked city to anti-car?

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:37 - There is no war on cars. Everybody has a car. There's no other way to get around Indy than with a car. Here's what's funny about that. Most of you "war on cars" guys doesn't want to pay the true cost of building and maintaining roads, either. You want somebody else to subsidize your commute from the lily white fringe of Indy. I can't begin to imagine how you'd deal if we had leaders with the courage to do something like Oslo. Can you find Oslo on a map? Great quality of life. They run laps around us.

Pete Boggs said...

Let's make a referral to the IN AG's office regarding the CCC's violation of state law.

Anonymous said...

Anon - 5:07 We already have a congestion rating that ranks about 47/50 for large metros according to TomTom. Why does College ave need to be widened? There are buildings in the way. Or should we take out sidewalks so everyone HAS to drive and no one is allowed to walk anywhere. That is pure nonsense. Oppose the Red Line if you feel that's right but to propose that we instead spend that money on plowing wide roads through our city so northern suburb commuters can get home a tiny bit faster is fiscal lunacy. Indy doesn't have a war on cars or hate highways - that is a victim complex if I have ever seen one.

A large overriding theme on this site is to make Indianapolis more attractive so people stop fleeing to the suburbs. Carving out wide commuter roads simultaneously A. lowers the cost of commuting long distances B. RAISES the cost of roads for Indy citizens C. lowers quality of life for those who live in close proximity to such roads.

Pete Boggs said...

Anon 8:52: Those in development can inform you that suburban bleed appears to have been stemmed. You're right about leaving sidewalks in tact & Anon 5:07 is right about the statist destruction of College Ave; by illegal misuse of public funds.

Anonymous said...

8:52, College Ave needs to be widened to ease congestion. We don't have enough roads, and our roads are too narrow. Where there's congestion, you widen a road. This is basic urban planning.

If you want to make an area more livable, you widen the roads and make access easier. Again, basic urban planning

As for what's in the way of the road, who cares? The road comes first, and the stuff on the road comes second. If people built in the way of where the road needs to go, that's what eminent domain is for. Everything can be torn down. Build it right, or dyn-o-mite.

If Indianapolis wants to be attractive to people fleeing for the suburbs, it needs to have a road system that looks like the attractive suburbs.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:40. What you said is not basic urban planning, it is nonsense. That leads to a feedback loop where we build more roads just to build more roads. Do diminishing returns not exist for roads? Do we even measure demand if they are not even priced?

Roads are a means to an end, not an end unto itself. Your proposition flies in the face of any anecdotal evidence of livable cities. Indy should not try to become carbon copies of the suburbs. They will beat us at that all damn day. Places like 52nd, 54th, and Broad Ripple and College are massively productive land uses. Look it up, places like that contribute FAR more tax money per acre than some big box store with a big parking lot. Knocking down productive uses and replacing it with a tax payer funded liability (a road that will need to be maintained) is how you bankrupt a city.