Metropolitan mass transit systems run buses and light rail trains. There’s not much evidence they do it well.
But boy, do they know how to spend money!
Now that the economy has hit the skids, tax revenues are down and metro boards across the country are hurting for money. King County, in Washington State, is no exception. The Metro system there has a multimillion dollar shortfall in funds, and the board threatens to cut services by 17 percent unless more revenue gets raised.
The Metro board suggests a tax hike — what they call a “congestion tax” — on cars.
Tim Eyman, the Evergreen State’s number one tax-hike watchdog, argues that the voters should get to decide whether to increase taxes to fund existing levels of bus service.
Great idea. Consent of the governed and all.
It’s amusing to read accounts of the debate over the proposed tax. Once again, we hear stories of bus after bus running without being anywhere near full.
If metro buses were my business, I’d want to make sure it ran in the black.
But with government, alas — relying on taxes for continuous bailout — that’s not even within the bounds of polite discussion.
And while it might make sense to run some buses on a fixed, reliable schedule, other buses could be supplied to commuters “as needed.” With modern technology this is eminently doable.
But first, let citizens decide how much money they really want to throw at the system.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.