Originally Posted by mnchiefsguy
I just checked on Delta, and programming random dates I found several non-stop flights from Mpls to Detroit. Expedia had several from MPLS to Louisville, and from Mpls to Cincy as well, so I do not get where you get this idea that you cannot get a direct flight to those places.
Rather than have the government light money on fire to introduce and socialize us on the benefits of a shiny new train, I would rather they spent said tax dollars on roads and bridges, which get a lot more use.
Do you really see a family of four shelling out $150 bucks a piece to ride the rail from KC to OKC, etc., when they can drive for a couple of extra hours to get there, plus have the use of their car while there, for less than $150 total. It makes no sense. Flying provides significant improvement in travel time, and, if one plans ahead and shops around, can be done cheaply.
My mother-in-law planned ahead and flew into KC from Mpls two weeks before Christmas for less than $90. I fail to see anyway that a light rail system can offer that kind of price point on tickets and stay in business. The airlines have a tough enough time being competitive at that price, and they do not have track to maintain.
Look, I get it that you love the light rail because you can do a little extra work on your smartphone or laptop. Frankly, that is not enough of an excuse to waste tax dollars by creating a revenue black hole for the federal and state governments.
Also, if that much money were to be invested in a national rail system, I would expect the TSA to implement the same security measures that airports have, which would create the same inconveniences that air travel has, which would wipe out most of the benefit from riding the rail in the first place. To think otherwise would be naive.
1) The market isn't built for families, though there is certainly a market for it with wealthy families. The market is built for businesspeople and young professionals. Students often don't have cars. Would they commute to catch a weekend game or to visit friends? You bet they would and for them, it's a hell of a lot cheaper than flying. Young professionals in metros like Chicago often don't have cars because it's so damn expensive. Further, I know people that live in Chicago and commute to Milwaukee or live in Cincinnati and commute to Columbus. Every day. They waste 2-3 hours of every single day in a car. I know people who accepted a job in Detroit while their wife was in Indianapolis, and they commuted every other weekend. And there is nothing worse than draining 7-8 hours as a busy professional.
2) Business professionals travel every day. In the midwest, you are often a branch or a hub and have to travel frequently. I travel once or twice a month and many of my colleagues even more frequently. Think about the benefit. If a company had hundreds of travelers saving hundreds of dollars per flight. Plus, if you're talking about ROI... you look over time savings as if it's no big deal. Guess what? Time equals money. If each of those travellers averaged about $15 an hour in salary... you're talking about let's say $115 in cost savings per traveler per day. One company alone per day can save thousands of dollars PER DAY. Like I said, even if there was a good leisure market, I really don't care. I am okay with government investment that enables business. That's the point of infrastructure, isn't it?
3) People need to stop using the argument that rails will ever come even remotely close to the inconvenience in check-in procedures as flights. TSA may heighten standards, but you will never have the long check-in wait time, the long security line, or the lengthy terminal size as a flight. And the opportunity for delay is significantly lower and less extreme as rails are less susceptible to weather and, unlike airports, it's not like you're trying to turnaround a bajillion flights at every gate.
4) Fourth and finally... especially in the midwest, it expands opportunity. Businesses pay a lot of money to recruit top talent, and it's often a hard selling point when you're isolated. Again, I pointed to a person who lives in Chicago and commutes from Milwaukee because his wife refused to live in Milwaukee. The midwest is thriving with business opportunity. Having access like this really expands the attractiveness of this rail, especially if you're talking about an upper midwest or southeast market.