Running the Cost-Benefit Analysis on the Metro Crash?

by Ben Somberg

June 25, 2009

What was the cost, in dollar terms, of the nine lives lost in the DC Metro crash on Monday? And how does that compare to what the cost would have been to prevent the accident, or lessen the severity of it? Should we do a cost-benefit analysis to determine the best policy?

Edward Tenner's post at the Atlantic looks at the absurdity of the proposition:

The disturbing truth is that even at the old, higher number, the loss of 9 human lives would not be grounds for replacement of the older model cars offering less survivability. Even if all nine casualties could have been spared, the $888 million estimate cost of replacing 1970s cars newer, safer models would have been almost $100 million per life, more than twelve times the pre-2008 $8.04 million statistical value of life used by the EPA.

This makes me think. In terms of economic efficiency, aren't Metro and most other public transportation systems arguably way too safe?

Well, you get the point.

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