Minimum Efficiency + Maximum Price Tag = Bad News for Taxpayers

Phoenix Light Rail Car

I, like many of you, have sat in traffic on Camelback or at a stop light waiting and waiting for the light rail train to complete its unloading of passengers and continue on at its top rated speed of 25 mph to another destination a few blocks away.  There have been times, too, when I have been annoyed by this unnecessary waiting especially when trying to hurry along to an appointment.  Yet, this annoyance pales in comparision to the use of federal taxpayer dollars used for the least used and least efficient form of getting around — public transportation.Porkulus Spending

My outburst comes on the heels of an article that appeared today in the Arizona Republic talking about the federal taxpayer dollars of the porkulus spending bill reaching Arizona in order to fund, you guessed it, public transportation projects for light rail and bus.  According to the article, the Regional Public Transportation Authority is already spending the $65 million that they received on 9 of the 14 current projects for the expansion of light rail and bus lots/depots.  However, after receiving the federal taxpayer dollars, you hear that this is not enough and we want more.  Not only that, but we are also reminded of why:

“But it pales in comparison with the projected $1 billion in lost sales-tax revenues that would have funded transit projects statewide. The economic meltdown already has forced planners to put all new bus services on hold.”

Empty WalletSo, in other words, the economy is in a recession.  Joe and Judy Taxpayer who are having a hard time making ends meet, are to blame that we are not continuing transportation projects because they refuse to purchase items.  Now the poor city planners are forced to seek others ways to exploit taxpayers and squeeze money out of their wallets. 

What is further troubling, is the proceeding paragraph in the article:

“The disconnect highlights how the federal government’s quick-turnaround stimulus goals are at odds with long-term needs for more mass transit.”

This seems like a harmless sentence buried in the story yet it is in direct conflict with an earlier report and article found in the East Valley Tribune concerning the overall usage of public transportation.  The article cites a report from Arizona PIRG in which illuminates an interesting fact:

“Here’s the part I found to be sad and entirely unsurprising: ‘74.8 percent of Arizonans still drive to work alone while only 2.1 percent take public transportation, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to entice new riders to transit.’” [emphasis added by blogger]

You read that correctly, only 2.1% take public transportation.  The number that take public transportation daily would even be smaller.  This leaves us with our state and federal taxpayer dollars being used to fund projects that do not benefit the majority of Arizonans let alone the majority of Americans and they want to expand and throw more taxpayer money at it.  Here is where it even gets worse:

“President Barack Obama aims to pump billions of dollars quickly into the national economy by steering money toward ready-to-go projects in an effort to create jobs. Most Valley transit projects, particularly light-rail extensions, are still a couple of years from being ready and cost hundreds of millions of dollars, not the tens of millions coming from the stimulus plan.”

What this paragraph fails to mention that the jobs that President Obama intends to create is MORE GOVERNMENT JOBS!  Under President Bush, we had a realm of BIG Government.  Now we are enteringREALLY BIG SUPER GIANORMUS GOVERNMENT the realm of REALLY BIG, SUPER, GIANORMUS GOVERNMENT!  All this with no immediate hope of stopping it.  But wait, there’s more.

The federal taxpayer porkulus funds will only go so far.  The same can be said the of the sales tax to fund transporation projects.  This will leave us in a projected major budget shortfall.  Therefore, we need to do a little math problem:

Joe Taxpayer pays his federal taxes which then is used to fund transportation projects but there is not enough money to cover all of the costs.  Joe Taxpayer then pays an increased state sales tax to pay for transportation but even that is not enough to fund the transportation projects.  What do you think will happen to Joe Taxpayer?

If you guessed they will increase taxes on Joe Taxpayer you are RIGHT!  According to the Arizona Republic article:

Eric Anderson, transportation director for the Maricopa Association of Governments, told transit advocates the region needs $1.2 billion over the next 20 years to sustain Proposition 400. He said the area needs $7 billion to keep pace with transit investments in peer cities.

“I think the voters get it, and I think they would support a new tax solely for transit,” Anderson said.

And there it is.  Friends, when you and I cannot afford to buy something, especially something that is not a necessity, we don’t buy it.  Government on the other hand does just the opposite.  They want to fund projects that not only are an inefficient means of travel, are exceeding costs, and are not even used to push a political agenda and to feed the hungry animal we call REALLY BIG, SUPER, GIANORMUS GOVERNMENT.  I think it is time that we put government on a diet.

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