Take a look at this; apparently U.S. steel executives are endorsing large (r) subsidies for transit in an "economic stimulus" plan planned by President-elect Obama. Now let's think about this a minute. Apparently, these executives believe that more light rail will be more beneficial to their industry than money in the hands of consumers to buy, say a new car.
Now let's think this through. A typical light rail carriage weighs about 50 tons, and rolls on track that weighs in at about 132 lbs/yard. Moreover, it takes a little more iron and steel to build bridges, reinforced concrete, and so on for light rail than it does to build a road. So I think that the executives are right; taking my next car payment to build light rail will be a good, rent-sought deal for them.
But for the environment? Well, the raw materials for steel are coal, limestone, and iron ore, as well as a number of other metals (nickel, chromium, molybdenum, etc..) used for alloying. So even apart from the coal they burn to run the light rail, it's not exactly a good deal for the environment by any stretch of the imagination.
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