OUSU president-elect L.J. Trup seems to have hit a pothole with one of his flagship policies to build a monorail. Investigations made by Cherwell into the financial and administrative feasibility of Trup’s proposed transport system suggest that the construction will not be able to go ahead without major financial backing.
Cherwell Deputy Editor Patrick Beardmore drew up a proposal for the monorail’s route (pictured) based on the system outlined in Trup’s ‘personifesto’. Using this as a blueprint, Cherwell obtained a quote for the potential costs of building a monorail. Jerry Sanders, CEO of SkyTran Inc. and associate fellow of the Said Business School, gave us this expense proposal and breakdown, “We could bring this in for under $85M all inclusive (stations, vehicles, candy bars). Roughly $10M a mile for guideway; $500K per station; and $25K per vehicle). This assumes no payment for the right of way or other government levies.”
Whilst this seems to be reasonably priced for a project as large as this, the expense would consume the whole of the OUSU budget for the next sixty-five years.
In another blow to Trup’s project, the Oxford City Council have expressed scepticism about the proposal and have even stated that they believe it would damage the city’s tourist reputation. They said, “It would be challenging, to say the least, to propose a monorail through the historic centre of the city without having an adverse impact on the world-famous beauty.”
The council have also ruled out the possibility that they could provide any funding and insisted that the project would require institutional backing. They dismissed the overall proposal as unnecessary, claiming, “Such major infrastructure projects are really only viable in very large cities.”
However, an economic analyst at Cherwell has noted that Trup’s proposal to downsize term-time by removing fifth week from the Oxford calendar would reduce overall university expenditure. The monorail would obviously be a long-term project, and the construction funds could be offset by the overall reduction of term time, which would reduce spending by 12.5 per cent. When factoring in projected revenue that the monorail would accrue, optimistic projections suggest it could be profitable within twenty years.
These projections do not take into account the positive effect that the monorail could have on Oxford’s tourism. In Orlando, Florida, the construction of a monorail (in conjunction with the development of a few Disney-based theme parks) has caused a huge spike in tourist revenue in what was formerly an area of desolate marshland.
Trup has risen to prominence on a wave of popular support not seen since Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign, and it now seems he will face similar problems that the American premier has been forced to confront in recent months.
Like Obamacare, Trup’s monorail is an essential, but expensive, modernising process that would drag the city into the twenty-first century. However, sceptical technocrats and political points-scorers are determined to kill the project while it is still in its cradle, citing cynical budget concerns as unsurpassable.