Infrastructure and language yet again!

A senior economist in a State Treasury once claimed that Rail was a net cost since costs exceeded revenues. Roads, on the other hand, he said, were profit producing.  I smiled and thought he was joking, but he wasn’t.

The motor vehicle licensing board was embedded within the highways department and the sum total of licence revenues, he said, exceeded road costs.  Ergo, roads were profit producing. (I suspect that capital costs didn’t figure in his equation)

On this reasoning, he resisted extending the capacity of rail, despite the fact that the city roadways were excessively congested with little scope to increase road capacity and that road users benefitted when traffic was diverted to rail.

I was reminded of this when I read Milos’ comment on my earlier post “Infrastructure – damned by the language we use”.   He referred to language supporting silos.   And indeed it does.  However, if our infrastructure decisions are to be used to support community wellbeing do we not need to move beyond silos,  to take a wider, more holistic, viewpoint?


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