Thursday, August 18, 2011

McGoldrick: Central Subway "Big Dig of the West"

In this morning's Chronicle, former District One Supervisor Jake McGoldrick publishes a devastating critique of the Central Subway project ("Stop Central Subway mistake in its tracks"). His op-ed, which relies on the analysis by last month's Grand Jury report, represents another welcome defection from the consensus of the city's political elite on this dumb project. So far BART director Tom Radulovich has been the only critic of the project among the city's elected officials:

This obvious boondoggle continues to roll on. Of greatest concern is the ever increasing cost of this project, now projected to be $176,000 per foot of construction for less than 2 miles of track. The estimate has ballooned from a projected $648 million (in November 2003) to $1.578 billion today. The project, already behind schedule, is slated to be completed by 2019. By that time the cost could triple and San Francisco taxpayers would be on the hook to make up the difference.

As McGoldrick and the Grand Jury point out, the project is poorly designed to connect with other systems even as it bypasses many potential passengers in the city's financial district. Like the awful California high-speed rail project, the Central Subway couldn't be built without federal money, but the feds will not pay for the inevitable cost overruns---or to operate the system after it's built. The city's taxpayers will pay for that.

Also like the high-speed rail project, the Central Subway project takes increasingly scarce transit money away from Muni, which, like public transit systems all over the country, is raising fares and cutting service.

C.W. Nevius writes about an "army of zombie candidates" in the mayoral campaign because of public financing: once a candidate accepts public financing, he/she can't drop out of the race without paying back the money. But the real scandal is that the candidates are intellectual zombies on the Central Subway and other important city issues. Mayor Lee is the head zombie, since he perfectly represents all the awful traffic and planning policies coming out of City Hall.

San Francisco, "The City That Knows How"---to do everything but think critically about public policy.

Odd that SF Streetsblog didn't include McGoldrick's op-ed in its Today's Headlines feature.

The American Public Transportation Association Report referred to in the NY Times story

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