Randal O’Toole is a very convincing fellow. Spend about half an hour listening to him – as a packed dining room of Austin’s movers and shakers did last year at the Headliners Club – and you may come away convinced that rail-based mass transit is about as desirable for a city as an earthquake, and possibly more expensive. According to O’Toole, a senior fellow with the libertarian Cato Institute, almost all rail projects are boondoggles or boondoggles-to-be. They cost too much money and deliver too few positive results, he says. He doesn’t necessarily argue against mass transit – indeed, he recognizes its necessity in providing transportation options for those who, for whatever reason, cannot drive themselves. In fact, the Oregon resident says he uses mass transit, and is a big fan of trains as long as they aren’t subsidized by taxes.
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