Commentary: Steele: Regional bus goal hung up in the middle
By Andrew Steele email@example.com December 4, 2012 1:32PM
Updated: December 4, 2012 1:32PM
The soon-to-be late, but probably not lamented by many, Regional Bus Authority is deciding what to do with the half-million or so leftover dollars in its account.
Apparently the money will either be split up among existing area bus services, or sent to the Regional Development Authority in hopes that it can be used for a future regional transportation system.
Where this money — and all the money spent on buses — came from, and where it’s gone or going; and more importantly, why this system developed as it did, are questions answerable by very few people.
The act of creating a Regional Bus Authority and other agencies like it tends to involve mainly consideration of inputs and outputs, with little thought to what happens in between: Here’s how we’ll get the money, here’s the thing we want the money to buy.
But at the end of the day it’s always about the activity in between, and that almost always means it’s about elected officials.
In the case of buses, county government was “in between,” and the idea that it was going to pay significant money for a bus system was a strange fantasy on the part of bus system supporters.
A big part of the problem with something like buses is that you have a small minority of people saying “this is needed” and a significant majority of people saying “I don’t need it.” There has seemed to be very little effort in attempting to argue that it is a worthwhile investment for wealthier folks to supplement transportation expenses for poorer folks in the interest of getting the latter to jobs, doctor’s appointments, and other productive uses of time.
Whether or not wealthier folks will agree with that is another matter. There’s a psychological, and recently more and more political, need for people to believe that their lot in life (and everyone else’s) is the lot they’ve earned, and therefore deserve. Something like publicly supported transportation becomes difficult to present as an investment when it gets mired in moral schemes.
Caucus time: This Saturday, Republican precinct representatives in south Lake County will meet to select a replacement for Rick Nieyemer, who has resigned from the County Council after his election to the Indiana House of Representatives.
There are some fine candidates pursuing the seat, but the idea that these things are handled by the party of the outgoing office-holder seems to go against the grain of the electoral process. Yes, elections are expensive, but perhaps that’s the price we need to pay for supporting the ambitions of electoral job-hoppers.