Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 187
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for April 24, 2003

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Dear Editor

The Old Drum Bus Service has financial problems. Is anyone really surprised? It was never designed to be self-supporting, since the original projections called for $8 in operating costs for each $1 in revenue. Furthermore, it appears that nobody is watching the store; the “Advisory Board” apparently didn’t know for 3 months that their contractor had raised the rates.

Next fiscal year the operating costs are projected at $60,000. Half of this is to come from taxpayers elsewhere in the form of a government grant. Of the remainder, half will come from taxpayers (and student fees) in the form of the CMSU contribution. Rider fares and advertising provide a pittance. The service’s advocates want the City of Warrensburg to come up with remainder.

There are two major problems with this bus service: nobody truly manages the service and very few people ride the bus. Figures I saw last May showed a maximum of 500 riders a month, with fares peaking at $200; the remaining riders were CMSU connected and rode “prepaid” by the CMSU contribution (See Gadfly 137) and Gadfly 154. No recent ridership figures have been provided to the public. If ridership ratios remain the same, CMSU will subsidize each of its riders about $4. The subsidy requested for non-CMSU riders would be over $5 per ride. This is on top of the $5 per ride subsidy from the government grant.

In a time when government at all levels is cutting back on basic needs, can taxpayers afford to support the luxury of a scheduled bus service that costs twice as much as a typical local taxi ride? Can students squeezed by ever-higher tuition and fees support the luxury of a bus service that few use? If we the citizens are to be saddled with the expense, we need control though a board that takes responsibility for its actions (or inaction) and provides full public accountability for how funds are spent.

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