Tuesday, August 05, 2008

RTA should be a critical economic driver, not the first place to cut costs

I would like to comment on service cutbacks on our RTA system. I can't be at the hearings today, or tomorrow, or Thursday. I cannot spare time from our business. Gloria is taking this note of mine to the hearing at the library now. My thoughts--

--It's exactly the opposite of what needs to happen now. When people need to wean themselves from cars, they need public transportation more frequently, more broadly dispersed.

--When an economy needs to expand, the last thing we want to have is a crippling of the transit system.

--The public transit system is a prime economic driver, to those who understand how to make a proper use of resources. If it had extended hours, we would all do more business. If it had extended routes, we would all do business over a greater area. If it were a free service, our region would be without parallel and would be one of the first to prosper on the uptick.

--We have additional revenue from the sales tax hike ostensibly levied for the as-yet stillborn MedMart. RTA is far more important. Confiscate the additional revenues. Use them to do something besides balance the county's budget. Use them to provide extended and free transit.

--Demand that the state provide a lot more dollars, instead of cutbacks. Trim state government. We in the urban areas are more important than government jobs.

--A recent issue of Crain's INVESTMENT NEWS pointed out that government workers earn 51.4% more than their private-industry counterparts. Get this into line fast with pay reductions and cutbacks in all government jobs. Our communities are more important than individual jobs. Make sure that the departing employees get no buyouts, either.

--Take our money back from the state, and from the county. Use it to build out the RTA and to offer free service as a major economic driver. Be the first to make it easy to do business, the first to make it easy to be working and productive. Imagine the possibilities!

--Cut welfare. Give people free opportunity. They will take care of themselves and feel a lot better about it.

--Run the buses around the clock; make RTA the first step toward a true 24-hour economy.

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