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Prospectus Blog Private Solutions to a Public Mess

At least that’s what I call our transportation situation–“mess”. And the mess now has a glimmer of hope of untangling itself, thanks to private companies that see potential in self-financed commuter rail.
Let’s review a bit of history. Trolley lines and street cars, for the most part, were built and maintained with private money. Railroads were built and are still operated by private entities. Maybe it is time to revisit these scenarios and allow private companies to lease and operate commuter rail lines.
It solves the problem of public financing. With precedent set for public ownership and private construction and/or operation (AKA “public-private partnerships”), there is no worry of “selling out” to big developers, or losing public assets.
According to the Seattle Times, a private company wants to develop an Eastside rail link for trains and bikes. It seems like a win-win situation; I figure there must be a catch. Maybe there isn’t one. It could be that we have reached a point where the economics of rail do make sense, and private companies see an opportunity to provide services while making a profit.
Let’s let them try — the worst that could happen is that it fails. At least we didn’t spend public money to experiment with something that ultimately doesn’t work (Monorail, anyone?). The best outcome is that we get a functioning commuter rail service and bike path for free. How bad could that be?
TECHNORATI TAGS: <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/EASTSIDE COMMUTER RAIL, BNSF LINE, PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS, SNOHOMISH COUNTY, KING COUNTY, PORT OF SEATTLE"rel="tag"EASTSIDE COMMUTER RAIL, BNSF LINE, PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS, SNOHOMISH COUNTY, KING COUNTY, PORT OF SEATTLE