Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Follow the Bus Money

Don't buy the myth that gas prices are being raised just to benefit Halliburton. The money is going somewhere else:

With high gasoline prices making mass transit more attractive, weekday ridership on buses, trolleys, the Monongahela Incline and the ACCESS paratransit system rose by 5.6 percent last month over September 2004, the authority said yesterday.
Yes, it's our old friend, the Pork Authority of Allegheny County who is benefiting from the high cost of petroleum fuels.

It was the largest gain in 41 months and one of the largest here since the national fuel crises of the 1970s.

"More people are realizing the cost-efficiency of public transportation," Dennis Veraldi, Port Authority acting chief executive officer, said in a statement.

It wasn't cost-efficient when we could still buy gasoline at reasonable prices. Obviously the prices were artificially jacked up when the public transportation people got desperate for money. Not enough money from state, federal, and local funds? Concerns about another fare raise? No worries. Find a way to make it too expensive for people to drive to work everyday. Voila! Instant increase in ridership. More riders means more money. They'll get that garage paid for soon enough. Aren't conspiracy theories fun?
Most of the 64 park-n-ride lots with a total of 15,000 spaces have been getting more vehicles and, depending on location, have exceeded capacity.
See what I mean? It's insidious. And it's getting crowded, too:

[Some Pork Authority spokesman] said he issued the call for people to move to the rear of buses and trolleys when seating is not available to accommodate the maximum number of riders already jamming vehicles at rush hour on the busiest routes.

He said the Port Authority can't do more given its finances, temporarily buoyed by $45 million in federal highway money provided by Gov. Ed Rendell as an emergency subsidy.

So the recent hurricanes did what even Fast Eddie's slick trick couldn't accomplish, and now people are standing the whole length of the bus.

I'll be impressed when they start adding routes instead of eliminating them.

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