Not much of a lottery | AspenTimes.com

Not much of a lottery

Dear Editor:

Here’s a joke for you:

How many CDOT employees does it take to manage the “Hybrid HOV Lane Lottery”?

Answer, none. In a state where access to the use of public roads is now going to, in part, be determined on the basis of random selection from an elite minority of taxpayers who happen to drive the right kind of car, there is clearly no one steering the ship at the state’s transportation agency.

I read Scott Condon’s story (“So, whose lane is it anyway?,” Jan. 21) three times and was convinced that I must have overslept by three months and been reading an April Fools’ article ” but then realized I was reading the Times and not the Daily. A lottery? Are you kidding me? Gambling for the right to drive alone in my Prius in the HOV lane? Just how badly do Prius owners want to drive by themselves? I thought they were the kind of folks who like to carpool!

And not just any old lottery that anyone can enter ” you know ” like the lotteries that are saving public education all over the nation (if you happen to remember that promise). You have to drive a certain kind of car that some government bureaucrat decides is better for the environment and therefore worthy of a chance to gain preferred access to our public transportation system. Yes, that public transportation system that we all pay for is now being parceled back to us, lane by lane, based upon what car we choose to drive.

And how much is it going to cost CDOT to administer this 2,000 hybrid drive-alone HOV access random selection program? Do you get a sticker? Do you have to renew every year? Who maintains the database of drivers? Who updates all the CDOT computer programs to accommodate this fiasco? Divide that cost by the number of benefited citizens and see what you get.

So what makes for good public policy?

The foundation of good government is that its policies should lead to the maximum benefit for the largest number of community members, at the lowest cost necessary to provide those benefits effectively. Deviate from this principal and you will often end up with unintended negative consequences and costs that more than offset the benefit of whatever program or service you are trying to implement.

The list of government programs and initiatives that have violated this principal is long and distinguished and includes such examples as, well, err, HOV lanes themselves ” but never mind.

Designing public programs, like the “Hybrid HOV Lottery” that intentionally exclude the majority of community members and taxpayers from the access to and use of a public good for reasons unrelated to their need for the public good, that cost more to administer than they provide in beneficial public service, and that create an entitled elite class within the communities in which they are implemented are just bad public policy.

CDOT executives should ask themselves how letting a couple thousand people that drive Hybrids drive alone in the HOV lane furthers their mission to, and I quote, “provide Colorado with the best possible multimodal transportation system that will effectively move people, goods, and information.” Personally, I don’t see it.

Paul Menter

Aspen


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