Coming To America: LA Metro’s Model Of Extreme Capital Consumption

What follows is our own boots-on-the-ground experience of what may be coming to a city or town near you…

Epic Money Pits

Here at the Economic Prism we’re not overtly opposed to trains, subways, and light rail transit. Over nearly two decades, we frequently rode the LA Metro Blue Line (now the A-Line) from Long Beach to Los Angeles.

The light rail train generally ran on time. The customer base was mostly agreeable when it wasn’t overwhelmed by the odor of indigents. Black market vendors reliably appeared to sell umbrellas at inflated prices on the rare days there was rain. The graffiti was world-class, bar none.

Some days, no doubt, were better than others.  And other days were worse than some. The rides were rarely boring, and sometimes remarkably lively.

For example, one late-December evening in 2005, we happened to be aboard the Blue Line traversing back to Long Beach through South Los Angeles at the precise moment the funeral service for Crips CEO, community role model, and children’s author Tookie Williams concluded.

This was one week after Tookie was executed by lethal injection at San Quentin Prison.  Governor Schwarzenegger rejected final pleas for clemency.

Following a four-hour service, which included remarks by Reverend Jesse Jackson, Tony Robbins, Snoop Dogg, and a eulogy delivered by Minister Louis Farrakhan, to over 2,000 grieving attendees in and outside of Bethel AME Church, countless mourners packed into our train. The somber atmosphere – and the smell of booze – was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

The point is, we have no aversion to riding commuter trains. Our gripe is fundamental…

Commuter trains are epic money pits. They’re insanely expensive to build. And they operate at a loss in perpetuity.

Here’s what we mean…

Coming to America: LA Metro’s Model of Extreme Capital Consumption

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