Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Public Transportation Program Too Successful?

by Kyle Michaelis
A mini-battle has erupted between Lincoln Democratic Mayor Colleen Seng and the Democratic majority Lincoln City Council over a program offering reduced bus prices to low-income people. At only $5 for a month's worth of bus rides, this program is a steal, but I can't believe its incredible success isn't being seen as a positive. Hell, this program should be expanded as much as possible.

Empty busses are in nobody's interest while reliable and cost-efficient public transportation is in everyone's. With gas prices as high as they are now and showing every sign of going even higher, there could be no greater time to renew our efforts in promoting and expanding public transportation - protecting both the environment and citizens' pocketbooks. What could be more in line with Democratic Party philosophy than that?

Personally, I agree with Mayor Seng that the $5/month may be a bit low if the program is ever to be self-sustaining, but putting the 1000 permit cap on it is just a bad idea. $10 a month seems reasonable for low-income individuals, but maybe there's a compromise to be had in further price reductions for children of such families. With the success this program has had, consideration should also be given to lowering the monthly rate on bus passes for all citizens, perhaps from $30 to $20-25, as a way to boost fixed revenue that could even allow Lincoln to expand its bus service. Let me tell you, a Friday and Saturday night downtown bus service running until 2 am could keep a lot of drunken fools off the roadways. It's hard to put a value on a service like that.

Then again, this would all be dependent on Americans' economic sensibility over-riding their intrinsic love for driving their own automobiles. I don't see the harm in trying, assuming the mayor's office and city council can quit their bickering and work together.


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