A Reader Says: Op-ed defending rail funding has holes
Op-ed defending rail funding has holes
This letter is in response to Mayor Pro Tem Jon Harrison’s op-ed, “ True cost of Redlands Passenger Rail
Project”(RPRP) (May 5), which states that “commuter rail service was determined to be the most feasible and cost
effective in meeting the project goals of improving mobility, travel times and corridor safety.” It is difficult to envision
how a commuter rail from San Bernardino and terminating at the University of Redlands improves mobility for the
69,000 citizens of Redlands.
In fact, an argument could be made that the mobility of 99 percent of the citizens of Redlands will be significantly
impaired by numerous street crossings in down town Redlands.
Further, when a project is “cost effective” it operates profitably, but the San Bernardino Associated Governments
(SanBAG) officials on April 30 admitted that the rail to Redlands would operate at a loss every year into the future.
Thus taxpayers are on the hook to subsidize the commuter rail.
Although SanBAG analyzed various rail alternatives, no independent study has demonstrated a pressing need for
commuter rail service between San Bernardino and the University of Redlands.
The op-ed also states that “SanBAG works to provide choices for people who are looking to move effectively and
efficiently within the region.” How many choices of public transportation is a government obligated to provide? If this
is a priority why not have a public helicopter service as a choice?
The justification for borrowing money on future Measure I ½-percent sales tax income and incurring a debt service of
“$78 million” is that “we as individuals might borrow to finance the construction or purchase of a home…. SanBAG
invokes the same strategy.”
This analogy is specious because a home fulfills a need, as opposed to SanBAG incurring a debt obligation for
taxpayers on a project that has no demonstrable need. A more appropriate analogy would be: as home owners “we
as individuals might borrow to finance” the purchase of a ski boat or a hot air balloon, and discover that our debt
service is overwhelming!
In conclusion, Harrison may write about the “true cost” and a “cost effective” project and opponents may disagree,
but both sides agree that when the RPRP is operational, it will be taxpayer subsidized. As such the RPRP will be a
perpetual burden on an already over-taxed citizenry.
— George Grames, The Inland Empire Transit Alliance