The Rail Runner, until last month, didn't pay premiums for the state's self-insurance program that provides liability coverage for settlements of lawsuits against government agencies. The insurance arrangement represented a little-known subsidy for the state-owned passenger train.
The taxpayer-financed liability fund has covered about
The Rail Runner will pay
State agencies typically pay for coverage based on their history of liability losses. But that didn't happen for Rail Runner when it started in 2006 during former Gov.
Because the Rail Runner paid nothing into the insurance fund, the rates for other state agencies ended up being higher, according to Risk Management Director
He estimates there were uncollected Rail Runner premiums of about
"We felt that it was appropriate to charge the Rail Runner premiums and not have the pool take the hit," Forte said in a recent interview.
"We were a little bit taken back when this conversation came up because we thought what we were paying covered everything," said Doyle. "But we were completely happy to say, 'Hey, that's something we need to take on.'"
The insurance is for claims such as when the train hits livestock, if a rider is injured and for fatalities. Two bicyclists have died this year after being hit by the train in separate accidents in
The Rail Runner is financed by rider fares, a voter-approved tax in the rail service area and federal money. With the state no longer paying for insurance, Doyle said, the train's budget fully covers operational expenses.
"I don't think there is anything left that I know of on the operation and maintenance side that would be on the burden of the state," Doyle said.
The rail service has another liability provision unique in state government.
In damage lawsuits, Forte said, the state indemnifies the losses of the private companies and other governmental agencies involved with the train. That includes