Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Madison WI - The Wisconsin State Journal reports on the battle between two competing rail proposals. A commuter rail proposal that would connect Madison to outlaying communities and the streetcar proposal that is championed by Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz.
The problem is that both plans are taking the steam out of each other. Mayor Cieslewicz suggested that the proponents of the commuter rail plan cool it so his plan can go forward. While both sides agree that both types of rail need to be done, the order in how it is done is what they are fighting over.
The Dane County officials that are spearheading the "Transport 2020" plan for commuter rail responded to the Mayor's suggestion with a comment that "the mayor is out of sync with the broader community here". Mayor Cieslewicz was a part of the "Transport 2020" task force before throwing a temper tantrum and pulling out because the focus of the panel wasn't on his personal legacy streetcar line in Madison.
The fear of both sides is that competing projects will kill off both projects by making it too expensive to proceed. Neither side wants to budge and both projects continue to compete with each other for attention.
Putting aside the fact that Madison can't afford to run what it already has, I admit that the commuter rail proposal would be more beneficial and serve a much broader population (if done properly) than the streetcar proposal being done primarily for personal legacy reasons. The Mayor is so desperate for his personal legacy line that I truly expect this fight to become rather nasty as each side escalates tactics to get their proposals pushed forward.
Monday, April 23, 2007
San Francisco CA - A commentary piece sent to me tells of the MUNI parties they held to celebrate the opening of their new T-Third rail line. The cost of these parties to the cash strapped transit system: Approximately $158,000.
MUNI hosted two parties, one for the general public and one for VIP's which included politicians, career bureaucrats and activists. A harpist, uniformed servers passing around quiche and salmon treats, and a red carpet were the highlights of the indoor VIP party.
The $158,000 paid for catering, tables and chairs, entertainment, sound and video systems, portable toilets and a number of other items that go into putting on big celebrations. While no cost breakdown can be found, it's easy to guess that the VIP party took the biggest chunk of the money.
While I have no problem with celebrating a grand opening, MUNI went overboard considering their financial situation. I have been to many grand openings of various transit projects and the celebration cost was usually budgeted anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $35,000. Spending $158,000 while at the same time screaming for more money to operate just tells me that the operation is looking for ways to waste money.
I'm sorry but a harpist is not needed nor is a separate party for the politicians given the financial situation at MUNI. A much more subdued approach would send a message that MUNI is trying to watch its finances. All this did was send a message that the agency is not financially responsible.
I'm awarding MUNI a Lance for wasting money when they can't afford it. They could have done a satisfactory celebration for far less and put the difference into actually running the service.
I won't even get into the problems the new line had on party day...