One of the reasons I decided to run for the county commissioner position was because of the decision the current county board made to invest over 13 million dollars in to a rail station in the city of Ramsey for the North Star Commuter Rail. This is a perfect example of wasting resources on losing efforts!! The following article was written by the Anoka County Watchdog.
ERHART’S FOLLY CONTINUES TO FALTER
“Northstar: It just makes sense!” “It’s equivalent to a 1 and ½ lanes of traffic on Highway 10.” “It will bring jobs and economic development to Anoka County.” “If we don’t waste this money, someone else will.” “We need something cool and rad up here on this end of town.” “Northstar will put Anoka County on the map.”
These just a sampling of the completely bunk statements we heard during the collective mania that gripped Anoka County when Dan Erhart and company sold their snake oil to a gullible public that wanted to believe that somehow a commuter train would do all those neat things for taxpayers.
None of it turned out to be true. Well, at least there is a kernel of truth regarding the last claim. Northstar has certainly put Anoka County on the map – as a laughingstock for engaging in the folly of commuter rail.
Erhart’s Folly is once again in the news. And once again, the news isn’t good, which is par for the course for Northstar. It’s about time the media start attaching adjectives to Northstar such as “troubled” and “beleaguered.”
The latest for this troubled (so how that works?) rail scam is the continued failure to meet ridership projections.
Since the first choo choo ran down those tracks off Highway 10, the expected riders have failed to show up.
The excuses were legion. “Gas prices are low.” “The economy is bad.” “The economy is good.” “People don’t know about commuter rail.” “The line needs to go to Saint Cloud.”
They could have made t-shirts.
And let’s put aside a growing myth and one that is propagated by lazy media types. There is a growing urban legend that the line was cut from Rice (not Saint Cloud) down to Big Lake because there wasn’t enough money or because conservative politicians sabotaged the project.
The line was cut simply because it didn’t meet the federal government’s own weak cost-benefit metrics.
Surprisingly, running commuter rail to a small regional center and then up to a cow hamlet in Jim Oberstar’s district lead to a low cost-benefit analysis. Who would have thought?
Yes, Northstar couldn’t hurdle the midget’s bar and satisfy a government that builds bridges to nowhere that this was a really sweet project if it ran to Rice, population 1,460. Did we mention Rice is in the 8th Congressional District?
The latest trick to “stimulate” Northstar ridership is a fare cut. Never mind that every ride on the line is already subsidized to the hilt.
News reports indicate that the Metropolitan Council will soon consider fare cuts to coax riders to get on Erhart’s Folly.
Hell, the riders are already so heavily subsidized, why not go full Monty and just make it all free?
That way we can be honest in admitting that Northstar is a failure and that offering free rides is really what the Utopians want in mass transit anyway.
Want proof? The proof is that they never cared about the outrageous cost to build and operate the line and the fact that increasing the massive subsidy is just fine by them.
And if free rides are offered, maybe we can stop throwing money down the rat hole to bail out this white elephant.
We can stop doing things like throwing millions into a station stop in Ramsey, which won’t do squat to build riders, even though the government stopped running a popular and inexpensive bus service from the city with the intent to force people on to the train.
With stations in Elk River and Anoka, there was no need to build yet another station in between the two.
Unless, of course, one considers the other reason (real?) for constructing a stop in Ramsey. The other reason is to bail out another government mega-project failure, the Town Center project.
So here we have the spectacle of a boondoggle rail station built in hopes of bailing out a boondoggle commuter rail line and a boondoggle planned downtown concept.
Northstar is officially a joke and so is Dan Erhart.
Okay, so the county board is crowing about saving $50 grand by withdrawing from the NLX project.
Yes, the Watchdog agrees that rail has yet to prove itself and that roads and bridges are a priority.
But we thinks some doth celebrate too much when there is a ticker tape parade to celebrate a canceled membership for a rail line that is years from anything.
Again, the NLX pull out is okay by us, but what about Northstar?
We saved a few thousand on NLX.
What about the millions being spent on a Ramsey station?
What about the millions being collected by the county’s sales tax increase for transportation?
What about the “wheelage tax” still being collected?
The fact is that the county is still taxing and spending millions on a utopian vision for a mass transit “build out” across the Metro.
If the board is going to get all big balls about transit and crow about things like NLX, then why not get serious and make some meaningful changes, like eliminate the wheelage tax and eliminate the sales tax increase for transit?
It will be interesting over the course of the summer and fall to see where the county commissioner candidates are on these issues.
Poker is the name of the game here. If you raise an NLX membership, you may just get raised a wheelage tax or even a sales tax.
When you get pushed “all in”, do you muck your cards or call the “all in” bet?