Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Lincoln Public Transportation Update

by Kyle Michaelis
A prior post (see link above) discussed the "Ride for $5" program providing low-income Lincolnites much-reduced monthly bus passes for $5. The mayor had decided to raise the price to $10 and cap the number of passes sold at 1000, a proposal to which the city council proved less than receptive. Well, a week later the city council has found the funding to keep the program running under the original parameters through its original end-date in August.

This is a great thing. This program's already proved an incredible success, and giving it a full year to flourish shows a lot of forethought and dedication on the part of the city council. However, as said before, I can't say I disagree with the mayor's general idea.

With this program's success, measures should be taken to make it permanent and at least somewhat self-sustaining. Reduced bus fares are good public policy, but the $5/month is remarkably LOW. Doubling that to $10 to at least help cover fuel expenses is a significant enough benefit for riders to be worthwhile while lessening the incredible burden on the city.

I also remain steadfast in the opinion that Lincoln should see the potential here in reducing its monthly fares, increasing ridership, and expanding services. Stronger public transportation would benefit the city in many ways, most importantly relieving infrastructure problems that will eventually impose incredible expenses on Lincoln taxpayers. The city has expanded much in recent years, so must its services (and I'm talking more than location).

This summer, I hope to see serious consideration given to amending the "Ride for $5" program, hopefully made permanent under the Mayor's guidelines minus the silly cap on beneficiaries. In turn, re-shaping the entire StarTran system should be on the table if Lincoln's community-based progress is to continue.


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