Sunday, May 13, 2012

Green Fail: It is cheaper to put three people in a Greek taxi than it is to send them on a train

President Obama and Joe Biden love trains. They want to spend five billion dollars on a high-speed rail link from from Victorville (CA) to Las Vegas. This is a waste of money for many reasons. One reason is you have to drive almost halfway  to Las Vegas to get on the train. Then, the price will be about the same as airfare. A good example of what government supported rail looks like is in Greece. In Greece, it is cheaper to send people than on a train if you put more than two people in the cab.

Via BBC:
But what of Manos' suggestion that it would still be cheaper to put all Greek rail passengers in private cabs instead?

There is a more accurate way of calculating the cost of rail travel than the one originally used by Manos. It gives a picture of the entire network rather than just the route between Athens and Thessaloniki.
Assuming this figure was the same in 2010, when the Greek rail system was making a loss of just over 1bn euros (£804m; $1.3bn) a year, it's costing the Greek railways 0.60 euros per passenger kilometre. Compare that to the UK, where in 2010 it cost 0.30 euros.

According to Greg Moisiadis, a cab driver in Thessaloniki, a cab from Thessaloniki to Athens would cost 700 euros - that's about 1.20 euros a kilometre, double the amount being paid to send people by train, if there is only one person in the taxi.

If four people were to share a taxi, the cost would be 0.30 euros per person per kilometre. Two taxi passengers would cost the same as the train.

Further investigation found that Greg's prices were similar to other cabs on other routes in Greece.

So Mr Manos is correct if there are more than two passengers in each taxi. 

But either way, the Greek railways are in a pretty awful mess, and while train journeys may cost less than cab journeys, they are more expensive than travel on other forms of public transport, including air.

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