Save your tokens, boys

To the editor:

During the past two years, while advocating the conversion of the existing rail tracks through the Adirondacks to a rail trail, I would occasionally hear an argument that went something like this: “Mass transit is the thing of the future; we should keep the track so it will be there when we need it.” None of these people intended to actually use the mass transit; they wanted it there for someone else. What they were really saying was, “We need the sacred rail corridor, but it’s really not too important that tracks be on it.” Well, with a rail trail in place, the sacred corridor is intact.

That not withstanding, some new figures indicate that maybe “mass” transit is not all that some people think it’s cracked up to be. Quoting from a recent article in the Wall Street Journal by Randal O’Toole, “According to data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics – counting both user costs and subsidies – public transportation costs nearly four times as much per passenger mile as driving, while Amtrak costs well over twice as much.”

The New York State Department of Transportation should consider these finding as it decides the future of the transportation corridor from Remsen to Lake Placid. The overwhelming social good of the corridor is to convert it to a rail trail. The only weak argument for a railroad is refuted economically by the above findings. The decision should be clear. We can all throw away our tokens.

Doug Ralston

Big Moose. N.Y. and Chagrin Falls, Ohio