Michigan leaders who are enamored with building new light-rail passenger lines should look to Greece's experience with its railway system. The New York Times reports that Greece's Hellenic Railways is bleeding red ink at a rate of $3.8 million per day. The total debt of the Greek railway system has increased to $13 billion, or roughly 5 percent of Greece's gross domestic product. Greek government officials who are interested in selling a stake in the state railway system may have difficulty finding a buyer - the Greek rail system pays three times as much for interest payments on its debt as it takes in on revenues.

Light passenger rail systems are a darling of urban planners and environmentalists who share a utopian dream of separating people from their cars. Never mind that light rail systems lose money almost everywhere they are built, requiring taxpayer subsidies to keep them operating. Michigan taxpayers are subsidizing Amtrak at a rate of $7.3 million dollars a year to provide daily service on lines linking Grand Rapids to Chicago and Port Huron to Chicago.

After a decade of budget deficits, elected officials in Michigan have yet to fix the state's structural budget problem. The first principle that elected officials in the state should adopt is: Do no more harm. The Greek experience with their passenger rail system serves as a good case study on how to harm an economy. Let's hope Michigan leaders are paying attention to the Greek tragedy.

Stay Engaged

Receive our weekly emails!

See also:

SEMCOG's Crazy Train: What happened to the last $3 million Detroit/AA rail study - Mackinac Center

Randal O'Toole (Cato Institute) discusses High Speed Rail

The Detroit People Mover Still Serves as "a Rich Folks' Roller Coaster"

Cut Train Subsidies to Re-connect Rural Michigan 


~~~~~

Related Articles:

Worker’s Choice: Freeing Unions and Workers From Forced Representation

How Pensions Are Bankrupting Cities and States and How to Fix It

Survey: Most Michigan Schools Outsource Noninstructional Services

Legacy Society

Study 'Segregates' School District Borders By Ignoring Key Data

The Most Important State Election This November: Michigan's Next House Speaker

Stay Engaged

Simply enter your email below to receive our weekly email:

Facebook
Twitter

One day, a Detroit grocer didn't get his ice delivery, the next day, he decided to go into the ice making business. Thirty-five years later, U.S. Ice has become a Detroit success stories with plans to expand beyond the city's borders. The secret ingredient: service.

Related Sites