Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 154
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for August 29, 2002

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

Despite the financial crunch affecting every government level from federal to city, there seems to be plenty of money for politically correct forms of transportation, such as mass transit and trails. Every time I drive down DD Hiway I see the latest progress on the grand Whiteman-to-Warrensburg paved biking/hiking trail. It has to be paved because the Feds demand it, even though maintenance will be a long term problem in our climate. This stretch is going to be a mini-road linking the eastern city limits with someplace near MO-13. Warrensburg’s plans eventually call for it to run west down Hale Lake Road, north through West Park and back along West Pine Street to downtown. When everything is done, I hope someone does a traffic count on it and tells us how much we taxpayers ended up paying per user mile.

The Old Drum bus service was featured recently. That’s the empty bus we see toodling around town – the one with the dog’s head logo on it, not to be confused with the similar busses operated by the Johnson County Board of Services for their clients. It appears the service had slightly over 5000 riders last year, at a cost of over $80,000. That’s $16 per ride! Direct revenue from the riders was only around $2000, with more contributed by CMSU from taxes and student fees. The rest came from grants (more taxpayer money recycled through a bureaucracy) and donations from local businesses and industry.

While I object on a philosophical level to taking money from one group to pay for the convenience of another, if we’re just bound and determined to spend tax money to do so, let’s consider alternatives. What if … they sold the bus and subsidized the local taxi service with the proceeds? Taxi rates range from $3 to $5 and take people door-to-door. If all but $1 of the taxi rate were subsidized, that $80,000 would pay for over 25,000 rides! Plus, it would be a lot more convenient for riders than waiting at bus stops. I think the kind of “conditioning” students need isn’t brainwashing into taking the bus to Wal-Mart, it’s the type gained by walking to our revitalized downtown to patronize the businesses there.

See also Gadfly 137 for earlier comments on this topic.

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