Has the River LINE been a good investment? When the line was first conceived 10 years ago, studies predicted the passenger rail would cost $314 million to build and carry 11,200 fares a day. The reality – the River LINE cost taxpayers $1.1 billion to build and averaged only 5,506 fares per day during its peak month of July. The River LINE now can claim the distinction of being the least cost effective passenger rail line in the country.
This year the line is expected to cost taxpayers $70 million dollars ($50 million in debt repayment and $20 million in operating expenses).but generate at most just $2 million in revenue. Assuming the line attains its best average number of fares per day of 5,506 for an entire year, the cost per trip to taxpayers will be $35.
That’s right, a round trip on the River LINE will cost taxpayers $70 and the rider will pay at most $2.20. Should average ridership double and achieve the original planned estimate of 11,200 fares per day, the taxpayers will still be out $65 million every year and that’s if every rider pays $1.10 per trip.
The River LINE was a losing proposition for taxpayers based on the state’s original projections and has now grown into scandalous financial mismanagement. Just think of the ways the state could spend $70 million more effectively every year - on schools to reduce property taxes; on our crumbling roads and bridges; on existing mass transit; or perhaps a cost effective project to deal with the truck traffic problem.
Read more on the River LINE: Courier Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, UTU, NJT River LINE.