The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal

Informed but opinionated commentary and analysis on urban transportation topics from the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty.

Our Mission: Monkeywrench the Anti-Transit Forces

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Thursday, October 10, 2002


From the Cabalmaster:

The latest ?wisdom? from Wendell Cox

Continuing our opinionated critique of Wendell's "Lexus Line:"

2.) By failing to consider the cost of auto operation, Wendell Cox substantially underestimated the cost of the “auto” alternative.

The American Automobile Association estimates the average “total cost” of owning and operating a car in the U.S. at about $0.50 per mile. Roughly half this amount represents “operating” cost (and here we note that Cox does not include insurance as a ‘car lease cost” even though lessors require this). Based on average travel distance per boarding for U.S. light rail and commuter rail (National Transit Database), the estimated operating cost falls within the range of $70 - 2,000 per year, or $30,000 - 70,000 over 40 years (rounded to one significant digit to avoid spurious precision).

The facts justify an upward adjustment of Cox’s “auto” alternative costs for the Northstar commuter rail project (rounded to one significant digit):

Hiawatha: $10,000 (annual lease and operating expense, 2002 Lexus 430).

Northstar: $7,000 (annual lease and operating expense, 2002 Lexus IS 300).

Corrected comparisons are presented below, based on Cox’s assumption of 450 commuter trips per person per year:


Additional “Annual Commuter Cost” of “auto” alternative: $2,000.
Additional total cost of auto alternative (implied by 2.5 million annual “new rides”): $10 million.


Additional “Annual Commuter Cost” of “auto” alternative: $3,000.
Additional total cost of auto alternative (implied by 1 million annual “new rides”): $7 million.

Since we've provided on-point refutation to key elements of Wendell's Lexus Line, we anticipate that he will respond, in detail and in substance. (Otherwise, Wendell, you'll be proving another point: that your demonstration of public-policy "absurdity" is in itself absurd. It's not a good idea to argue against the existence of Santa Claus by denying the reality of the Easter Bunny.)

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