Transit agencies have a simple answer to every problem: you should give them more money. Back when transit ridership was increasing, the transit lobby said the increase was “a clear message to Congress that the citizens of this country want expanded public transit services” and that Congress should pass a “well-funded bill” that “invests in our country’s public transit infrastructure.”
Now that transit ridership is declining, the same transit lobbyists say the solution is more money to entice people back onto the buses and trains. The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority, whose ridership has been “steadily declining,” wants to trade in the property tax that now earns it $13 million a year for a regional sales tax that will provide $30 million a year. Such a deal!
Santa Cruz Metro, whose buses lost 2 percent of their riders last year, has relied on the city to provide millions of dollars from a reserve fund to keep its system going. Yet officials bristle when people complain that they are not doing a good job of making the agency self sufficient. “We had an incredible year last year of receiving grants,” brags Metro’s CEO. If that is the criterion by which he wants to be judged, the Antiplanner thinks his priorities are misplaced. Continue reading