LETTERS: Costs for rail are too much for us to bear

As a concerned citizen I would like to make a comment and plant some doubt regarding the metro area T-SPLOST movement and help enlighten the populace to this albatross.

I attended the Metro Atlanta Northern Crescent Transit Summit with an open mind to understand the proposed value of a metro rail system. To my understanding I could find no rational reasons to remove from the citizenry billions of dollars one penny at a time with the T-SPLOST for any type of rail system.

It sounds inexpensive when you propose a penny tax. Depending on who you speak with that tax ends up accumulating $6 billion to $16 billion. Taking in account we are coming out of the worst downturn since the Great Depression makes it an even worse decision.

The price of laying tracks ranges anywhere from $30 million to $70 million per mile minimum, not counting the inevitable cost overruns. The problem I find with the whole program is after spending these billions of taxpayer dollars, only 2 percent of the population is expected to ride. That means the other 98 percent will subsidize the ride for only 2 percent of the population.

It was stated at the Crescent Transit Summit that many of the rail users did not previously have transportation. If they did not have previous transportation, that means there is no relief to the highway congestion we suffer from daily. Even if the T-SPLOST passed, it would take more than 10 years to complete. Ten years of traffic interruptions — I really need that!

If we take MARTA as an example, after the huge initial costs, yearly maintenance costs run into hundreds of millions of dollars in upkeep. MARTA is relatively small to the proposed additional rail tentacles reaching out into each county. This T-SPLOST appears to be the gift that keeps on taking because the taxpayer will be on the hook for upkeep and maintenance each and every year. Not one rail system in the world is self-sustaining. Each and every one must have a steady flow of taxpayer (non-rider) dollars because ridership will only, if lucky, generate 20 percent of yearly maintenance revenue.

In Gwinnett, we have a very inefficient and ineffective bus transportation system. Many buses travel from stop to stop with one or two on board with that one sometimes being the driver. Until each county can figure out how to manage a bus system — also subsidized — effectively and not a burden to the taxpayer, l do not believe for one moment we should engage anything else.

— Steve Ramey