choo!Ē The step means the trainís promoters can now apply for federal funds. A $500,000 grant is already budgetedóbut when it comes to trains, thatís small change: itís estimated that WALLY will require $32 million in capital expenditures up front and then $7 million a year to operate. Since fares are projected to bring in only about $2 million a year, AATA may put a new countywide transit millage before voters as early as next August. In the meantime, itís helping to fund a study for a connector system from a future WALLY station that might include a streetcar, and subsidizing some commuter bus routes to other parts of the county. Still unresolved: how to shield AATA from liability if the northbound train never materializesóbecause it if doesnít, those federal grants will have to be repaid.
[Originally published in December, 2008.]