February 27, 2008

The State as Bizarro Company

Justin Katz

Is it me, or is there just something fundamentally bizarre about this construct:

The pressure comes as the authority is already having trouble carrying a large influx of riders. More Rhode Islanders are taking the bus since the spike in gas prices that began after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Public transportation provides a reasonable check on one's own priorities and principles, because it's technically a public service, yet it's hardly a public entitlement. Although folks will have differing opinions about the efficacy and boundaries of such programs as welfare, there's pretty universal agreement among those who don't draw income directly from them that the fewer people who need the "safety net," the better. By contrast, we want ridership to increase, and one would think that it has the potential, at least, to be a source of revenue, rather than an expenditure.

Granted, there may be intricacies to the world of buses and boats that I haven't considered, but how is it possible, given that they travel their routes according to schedule rather than immediate demand, that filling more seats could represent an additional burden? That seems a bit like McDonald's complaining about an increase in burger sales.

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Its convenient to use the price of gas as the reason for the increase in ridership. But as a former RIPTA passenger (April through November 2007) I found that there were more and more homeless and ACI work-release passengers and, if anything, I thought paying riders were getting fewer and fewer.

Side note: Fox News just reported William F. Buckley has died.

Posted by: George at February 27, 2008 11:22 AM

Oh woe is us, we're not making enough money because we don't have enough riders.

Oh woe is us, we have too many riders but still aren't making enough money.

Gee, do you think the morons at RIPTA will figure out that if you give out tens of thousands of free passes you're going to fill buses up with non-paying customers and not have room for those that actually GENERATE money?

Posted by: Greg at February 27, 2008 11:36 AM
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