Case of the bloated bus system
In regard to the Corridor Investment Study, and the ambitious expansion in transit services which it envisions, the Aspen Daily News reported on Jan. 20 of this year that “the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system’s annual operating costs are estimated at $27 million,” and that “operating the current bus system to meet the expected growth in ridership by 2008 would cost about $25.5 million annually.”
In the interest of round num-
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bers, today’s bus system costs about $14 million annually, of which $10 million comes from tax sources. Anyone who thinks bus ridership will nearly double in the next five years is obviously off their medication, but I don’t doubt there are those who would spend our money to double bus service regardless of the trend in ridership.
There clearly won’t be a doubling in fare income, so to be really generous we can assume that tax sources are intended to provide an operating subsidy of at least $20 million per year by 2008.
In the May 14 Aspen Times, we learn that capital costs for the BRT are $128 million in 2008 dollars. Over a 10-year period, then, we are being pitched a transit system which will require 328 million public dollars over and above whatever income is derived from fares.
Here’s some perspective.
From Rifle to Aspen, the 2000 U.S. Census reports 46,000 people age 18 and over in the area served by RFTA; $328,000,000 represents $713 spent for each and every adult, every year for 10 years, before anyone ever gets on a bus and pays the fares.
We could give every single voting age person in the area $7,130 toward the purchase of a new hybrid electric car every 10 years with the spending proposed to serve the small minority of citizens who are capable of having their transportation needs satisfied by a bus system.
Note to Representatives McInnis, Udall, Allard and Campbell: By agreeing to support federal funding for capital expenditures before determining whether local taxpayers are willing to foot the bill for operating expenses, you have become accomplices in a scam.
Voters will now be leveraged into voting for increased taxes using the fear of losing all that federal money, despite the fact we don’t need, can’t use and probably can’t afford this bloated new bus system.
Up The Crystal
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