Thursday, August 2, 2012

Investment or Extravagance?

A Commentary made by Tom on July 26, 2012 focuses on the rail system in Austin Texas. He starts the paper by mentioning the environmental issues, the main point of public transportation, and the bus system that is relatively successful. He compares the bus system to the rail system in order to emphasize the ineffectiveness of the rail system. He states that the rail system is not very well-known, and it is not being used widely, therefore bringing in small amount of money. He also states that it would cost enormous amount of money for the rail system to expand. He provides statistics to substantiate his viewpoint, and effectively show the "unseen" problem in Austin Texas.

While he did not provide a solution to the problem, I agree with him in that the rail system is, indeed, ineffective. It is true that the current rail system is too small and inefficient for the general public to use. As Tom has mentioned, it consists of a total of nine stations. With only nine stations, there is no surprise in that there are 1800 riders per day on average. Also, the city does a terrible job in informing and encouraging the public to use the system. I've lived in Austin, TX for about a year now, and I have never heard of the rail system. If people do not know about the system, no matter how good and efficient it is, no one can use it. In order for the rail system to survive, the city must inform the public, and enhance the system.

However, one must be prudent when considering expanding the rail system. The 100 million dollars that has been spent is a "sunk cost," or retrospective costs that have already been incurred; there is no way of returning it. The state should only think about what we can do best now. If the rail system is a dead idea, we must abandon it. But if there is good potential in the system, it might be worth it to invest more money for it to possibly flourish. After weighting the costs and benefits, the state should make a prudent decision.

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