Monday, February 9, 2009

Can Anyone Do Math Anymore?

Today's pretty diagram is brought to you courtesy of your local municipal government here in Enron-by-the-Bay and the regional government. According to the local fishwrap:

Houston-based Jacobs Consultancy, which so far has earned $3.2 million to analyze Lindbergh Field for the Sanders group, said many of the improvements could be funded through landing fees and other airport revenues.

Being in the airport consulting business seems like a great racket. The work is steady, no one really looks hard at you produce, then they just do it again next year.

OK, so how much would this lovely plan cost? It turns out that they quote a cost of a mere $5 to $12 billion. However, in my experience, whenever you have a quote like this, you take the high estimate and triple it and now you're getting close. But hey, there's lots of tourists passing under Charles Lindbergh's visage to pay for this right? Sure are. Turns out, the port authority is estimating that upwards of 20 million passengers per year will be using our airport over the next twenty years.

Now class, it's time to do some math. Don't worry, Professor B-Daddy will step you through the lesson. First, we'll be a little generous and say the project comes in at only $25 billion. How long before we demand the next airport upgrade? Twenty years? OK. How many passengers will we get? 20 x 25 million = 500 million. Wow, that's a lot of passengers. But our bill is $25 billion. $25 billion/500 million passengers = $50 per passenger. That's right, this little ol' improvement will cost an average of $50 per ticket. Southwest Airlines has some fares for less than that. That doesn't even count the interest on the bonds that would have to be issued, which only makes the math worse.

The article talks about landing fees and getting someone else to pay for this, but the bottom line is that no matter who pays, that's mighty expensive and the taxpayer money could be put to better use.

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