Re: The Actual "Truthful" Title Is: Examining the causes of cost overruns on rail and road projects
Date: 11-23-2021 - 23:41
So let's start with spin by Mouse and then switch to an outright lie.
The "actual" "truthful" title is: "Examining the causes of cost overruns on rail and road project"
I've known Bob Poole for many years, as a railfan, and through Reason. I've even been a panelist at a Reason transportation conference, though not a fellow traveler myself. So Bob has a certain point of view. However, unlike those who like to re-interpret his commentary for him, he is a good researcher. And, the critiques he has made in this regard are well worth listening to.
Now, if we could only see the actual papers he quotes then we would know which projects were selected, what the rankings were and how those project costs and benefits were distributed by project.
What kind of contracting processes were used to design and build the project (as there are huge differences in cost overruns by contracting processes that are used)? In addition, what were the sources of the cost estimates used in the actual study cited? And, what were the sources of the benefit claims and the results used to draw these conclusions?
The selective use of data ("cherry picking your inputs and weighting your outputs to give the answer you want) you "like" to make a political case is certainly not limited to "Govt planners". You should see how the crazed true believers on both fringes and the aremy of paid special interests cherry pick the data they "like" to use...
That caveate to human "creative" motivations, I've seen plenty of that kind of poorly done "cost benefit" analysis used to justify projects with massivbe cost overruns, to real "turkeys" (fitting for the season), from mega freeway projects such as the Century Freeway, to a proposed BRT lane project, and completely useless $6.3 million bike lane project locally.
American public works costs are way over the averages of other developed nations for all modes by over 40%, and wages, materials, and other such variable don't explain it. Poor planning, including poorly done cost benefit analysis is a big part of that, from bloated design criteria, and contracting methods that allow contractors to "underbid" and make it up with "change orders".
An excellent example of poor planning is of course the CAHSRA fiasco. Where no real needs based planning or alternatives analysis was even attempted. No real ost benefit of the alternative investments, just "build it and they will come", and the contractors certainly will. If the real political purpose of a project is just to fill a pork barrel, then you're going to get a lot of pork, and not as much public benefit.
On the other hand, I can point to projects that were well planned, used contracting processes like design build, which have higher bid prices. but almost no cost overruns like the firt three phases of the Gold Line, built on time, on budget, and with the ridership as projected in the planning, being achieved.
So maybe, the moral and social compass that guidesprofessionalism and the degree of political integrity, versus self serving drivel to pander to percieved political needs, is an important variable for understanding why there are some of these widely disparate project outcomes?
In my carrer I've seen some stuff real done well, and some stuff done really poorly, and the integrity, of both the political leadership and of the people involved in overseeing such projects, was one of the biggest variables.