At a recent candidate forum, Ozzy Angulo, who is running for the District 3 seat, said that for a single mother with no car, buses are a core service. That is true. And to an avid golfer, I guess Ironwood is a core service. But when prioritizing the expenditure of tax dollars, you must take the whole city into account. And what I have seen with my own eyes, every day, are large, empty, or single-passenger buses making their rounds. Yes, that single passenger needs a ride, but could we not accomplish that at a far lower cost than using a vehicle the size of a small single-wide trailer?
From time to time I get corrected by some champion of the status quo who insists that the cost is covered 60% by riders, and that the rest of the money comes from somewhere else. And as long as “someone else” is paying for it, there is no problem. Actually, there is no “someone else”. All taxes are paid by us, the consumers of all products and services in which these costs are passed on as a business expense. And some of these taxes are more direct than we realize, just as the city gets over a third of its general fund budget as a direct transfer from GRU. If you pay for gasoline, you pay a tax that pays for buses.
Not only is this an expensive and wasteful means of transportation; it’s dirty, too. Our buses burn over 2400 gallons of diesel fuel per day. Is this the commitment to Green Energy that our commissioners say is so important?
What is really worrisome is that our city and county commissioners have big dreams for these big buses. They not only believe that a day is coming when these buses and more will all be filled. They want to make it happen. They want to discourage automobile travel by making it unpleasant. That is why we are looking at narrowing 16th Ave. with bike lanes. This busy road will become more congested by decreasing car capacity.
City Commissioner Tom Hawkins said last night that our buses have 9 million riders that we didn’t have 10 years ago. Does he mean that our ridership increased by 9 million riders in 10 years? Did we go from zero to 9 million, or 4 million to 13 million? And what kind of fuzzy math do you have to do to report 9 million riders in a county of less than a quarter million total residents? If I took the bus every day, for a week, to and from University, and had to transfer to another bus in the process each time, would I be 28 riders? Multiply that by 52 weeks, and I am 1,452 riders!
I am open to suggestions…