Thursday, February 8, 2007

How not to fund transit

Philadelphia PA - An article in the Philadelphia Inquirer relates some of the latest attempt to save transit by Pennsylvania's tax and spend Governor, "Fast Eddie" Rendell.

In the Governor's proposal, he wants to tax oil producers to raise money for transit. In his Liberal mind, taxing the greedy oil companies directly will save Pennsylvania residents money. Wrong again Fast Eddie. All it will do is increase prices to the public through higher prices at the pump and those higher wholesale prices will adversely effect all the public transit systems that will have to automatically pay 6% more for their fuel if the proposal goes through.

In short, whatever money the state gets from the proposed oil company tax will be offset by higher prices to the end user. All this proposal will do is create paperwork and waste money.
The Governor also proposes raising taxes on items such as cigarettes and cigars to help fund transit while at the same time trying to get people to stop smoking. Yeah, that'll work well.

Fast Eddie's plan to save transit is doomed to fail. As a Liberal politician, his mind can't grasp the fact that the money he thinks will come in, won't. The oil company tax will simply be passed on to consumers, including the cash strapped transit systems, and his other tax increases he is proposing is focused on a dwindling number of residents who use those products. Raise the tax and less will use it so where will all the money come from to bail out the transit systems?

In the end, Pennsylvania residents will suffer through paying more and the windfall of money Fast Eddie expects to fill the State's coffers won't materialize. Funding promised to transit systems won't materialize either as the expected money from oil company taxes will just be passed on to the public and transit systems and the other taxes are on unstable sources that are drying up.

Monday, February 5, 2007

More Money = Better Service

Hartford CT - From The Advocate paper, a story regarding a coalition of transit operators as well as business and environmental agencies who have formed a group called Transit for Connecticut. The Transit for Connecticut group is doing am 8 week, $50,000 study on ways to increase service and the costs involved.

The group is seeking to have transit subsidies increased so that bus service can be increased. Over the years, the subsidies have remained stagnant while costs have increased which has led to many service cuts.

While it's laudable for wanting to increase service, I certainly hope the group looks at the waste occurring in what service is currently running as well as waste that occurs within the administration.

Simply giving more money to public transit if the operations are loaded with waste is not the answer to improve service. Pittsburgh is a prime example of what can happen when you simply pump more money into an operation that has massive internal waste. For over a decade, the more money you gave them, the more new ways to waste it were found by the spendthrift administration.

I have not run across a transit system serving a medium to large city yet that is not loaded with internal waste. Waste that costs millions each year that, if eliminated, could go towards increasing service where it's needed.

In my opinion, simply doing a study that says "we need more bus service and this is what it will cost you" is not exactly the type of study needed. What is needed is a study that examines existing service and the administration and operating areas looking for ways to trim costs first. Once that is done, then you present the cause for more service.

Sadly, most transit advocates don't want to look at the internal waste that is helping to keep service from expanding. As the advocacy group in Pittsburgh as well as many others across the country show me, they are more interested in just getting more money tossed at the service while burying their head in the sand over the bleeding of money from inefficient operations and management of the transit system they want so badly.

The other aspect they seem to be shooting for isn't so much about the fact that transit can save people money but instead are pulling out the environmentalist card which has failed just about every time it's been tried. The fact of the matter is that you could double the transit fleet, have it all powered by electricity and the impact would still be negligible on the environment. Transit for the wrong reason, such as environmentalism, is more costly and wasteful than a well planned operation that focuses on moving people from where they are to where they want to go.

While I hope the Transit for Connecticut group succeeds in obtaining additional funding, they'll be in the same position in a few years from now if they don't address the internal waste which will only drain off that money.