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Views of the test commuter train and partisan fighting over transportation spending have renewed interest in the FasTracks program.After 13 years of taxes without a choo-choo in sight, there’s a few things Arvadans should know: The price-tag presented to voters, $4.7 billion, had little relation to actual costs. Research showed the public would buy this figure. Thus all the over-runs and bail-outs. Are we talking about another 4 or 5 billion? What’s a few billion among friends?Much of the cost of the campaign for FasTracksYes was pay-to-play donations, followed by no-bid contracts. Although there had been discussions about sharing rights-of-way and track with private railroads 20 years earlier, no agreements were made before the vote, a blunder costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands.Bus rapid transit (BRT) costs less to build and operate than rail, and has shorter lead times, is faster, carries more passengers per hour and generates less greenhouse gas. Counting operating and capital, it costs about $28 per passenger on some lines. Original estimates that Fastracks will reduce traffic by less than 1/2 of one percent have not changed. Such reduction will last about 5 months, until population growth wipes it out. It’s unlikely that RTD will be able to pay for replacement tracks and rail cars without additional taxes.In addition to the regressive FasTracks sales tax, Arvada is shoring up the Gold Line with your city tax dollars. Some say we are too far into this to quit, but wouldn’t it go a long way toward common sense to stop wasting this money?
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