Advertisement

Archive for Wednesday, November 19, 2008

T for two

November 19, 2008

Advertisement

To the editor:

Should anyone be looking for a clue as to why our country is currently in economic freefall, I would offer up the recently passed sales tax increase to support the city’s “T for two” bus system as an example.

No matter how you do the math on this turkey, this ill-conceived, poorly implemented and badly managed operation has cost the taxpayers millions of dollars over the past few years and will continue to do so until the next tax increase proposal is rolled out, no doubt, in the near future.

One does not need to be a transportation expert to figure this one out. Just take a headcount of the number of riders you see on a 40-passenger city bus on your way to and from work each day, as I have done for the past several weeks. Here are my last four observations, 0-3-1-2.

Merge with the Kansas University bus system? Now there is a handy idea. Let’s team up with another tax revenue-eating monster! We are all going to need some type of public transportation very soon if we continue to give these poorly managed government entities a mandate to squander our tax dollars.

As long as we are willing to reward poor performance, CEOs will continue to walk away with millions, our congressional leaders will continue to raid the U.S. treasury, and the “T for two” bus system will receive another plaque to hang on their wall when they can proudly proclaim themselves to be the “T for three.”

Gary Hamon,
Lawrence

Comments

Lawrenceisverycrooked 6 years, 1 month ago

OMG!! I couldnt have said it any better!! What ever happened to common sense?

sunflour 6 years, 1 month ago

For the record, KU's bus system is funded by student fees, not tax dollars.

Lawrenceisverycrooked 6 years, 1 month ago

Pay me 5 million bucks and I will buy 2 Suburbans. My wife will drive one and I will drive the other. Just call me and I will pick you up and take you where you want to go.............This makes more sense than whats happening now!

Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

Many continue to overlook three major causes of Lawrence tax dollar problems: 25 years of Mis-managed growth decisions Developers and cars * roads All three are huge budget items.What do new roads bring with them? Development…..seldom long time relief from traffic congestion. Consider if residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch. But with increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by residential does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality.More streets = more cars = more people = more tax increases. Developers consistently increase our tax liabilities: How you ask?Over built retailOver built residentialDemanding New Industrial Sites while many 12-14 acre sites are now available Demand New sewage treatment plant which is on the backs of taxpayers Demand New Housing Projects - If residential growth paid for itself we might not be in a budget crunch. Increased numbers of residential create increased demand on services. Historically revenues generated by residential housing do not pay for the services they require from a municipality thus increased taxes to cover the cost of maintaining: * New water and sewer lines are on the backs of taxpayers for maintenanceNew streets are on the backs of taxpayers for maintenanceNew public schools are on the backs of taxpayers More fire & emergency med stations are on the backs of taxpayers more law enforcement manpower is on the backs of taxpayers * more snow removal is on the backs of taxpayers * More cross walks are on the backs of taxpayers More Traffic Controls are on the backs of taxpayers More Parks are on the backs of taxpayers *New Million dollar intersections fall on the backs of taxpayers If developers were truly concerned about traffic problems Lawrence would not have become a bedroom community that which cannot afford itself. Bedroom communities simply cannot generate enough revenue to support themselves thus increased taxes and user fees.Why do developers over build?http://lawrencesmartgrowth.blogspot.com/2006/10/why-do-developers-overbuild.html“Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You with the Bill)”http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/18/free_lunch_how_the_wealthiest_americans

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

Funny, none of the experts above are requesting that all the tax subsidies to their private auto use should be ended.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

MV Transportation puts $3,000,000 back into the local economy which helps save jobs. MV transportation is the 23rd largest employer in Lawrence,Kansas*No one employed by MV transportation works for less than $10 per hour and become elgible for medical insurance and a 401k.The bottom line: Why not have our state and federal tax dollars back in Lawrence,Kansas to boost the economy and pay good wages?55.5% of the T's annual funds or $3.3 million comes from the State and Federal Government. No other city service can say that.Public Transit in Lawrence uses just 1.1% of the city's total FY08 Budget.70% of the T's contract dollars pay for wages,benefits and other personnel costsThe T's income from fares has risen steadily, and last year rose 50%.The T's annual number of passengers passed 400,000 three years faster than in JOCO.The T & KU on Wheels/ Public Transit is the 23rd largest employer in Lawrence,Kansas. This money is supporting our local economy. No community can afford to lose an employer of this magnitude. Lawrence cannot afford to lose a good paying employer such as our public transit. Good paying employers are difficult to bring in to Lawrence.Funding the T saved nearly $1.75 million in annual matching funds and $2 million in earmarked funds. The Lawrence economy needs these tax dollars back into the local economy. It is better to have those tax dollars come back to Lawrence rather than the same tax dollars going into other communities.The bottom line: Why not have our state and federal tax dollars back in Lawrence,Kansas to boost the economy and pay good wages?

SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 1 month ago

Liberals love the emp-T and other government transportation systems because they want you to become dependent upon their programs. Think about it - when every aspect of your life requires the benevelonce of government handouts and City Hall subsidies, you become trapped into voting only for those who promise more and more.

cowboy 6 years, 1 month ago

Stuck on StupidThe developers left town a couple years ago Merill , and they won't be back for along time. What we are left with is a decreasing revenue stream due to lack of building permits , decreasing retail sales , and an environ that makes luring any larger employers quite difficult. We have overspent the city reserves , failed to trim our spending back , and seem to have an attitude that it'll all be ok tomorrow.Thats a recipe for an unhappy forecast. What happens when we raise the tax and revenue goes down ? It might happen as this economy sours even more. Seems most responsible families make the cuts first , then loosen the belt a little as events dictate. Lawrence has taken the opposite approach. Spend and hope. Hope the gamble pays off.

Ragingbear 6 years, 1 month ago

Sure are a lot of whiners here today. I suggest you get over it.

mom_of_three 6 years, 1 month ago

you guys are looking at the wrong buses, that's all i can say. and if you want to compare .25 out of every $100 spent to the economic free fall (and the recent $4 for gallon of gas, automakers who are going out of business, and ceo's who would rather go on expensive trips and huge bonuses than run their companies), then go ahead. But I am not buying it.have a good day

dandelion 6 years, 1 month ago

When I read this forum before the election I came away with the impression that the town hated the T and would vote it down. Then I would go out into the real community and see the support for the T everywhere and felt encouraged. When I ride the T, there are usually several people on there with me. Yes, there were a couple of times I was on there by myself for a few blocks, but not for the whole route, so I'm more than a little tired of hearing about the so called empTy by people who have never stepped foot on it. I think the commissioners thought the town didn't support the T, so they essentially put it up to a vote, and they were wrong. Now they need to run it with some business sense instead of trying to destroy it, or they might as well not run for office next time.The people of Lawrence have spoken. They are obviously not represented by the people who post frequently on this forum. If the commission is trying to gauge the public sentiment by reading this forum, they should now know that this isn't the real Lawrence.

Phil Minkin 6 years, 1 month ago

Headline:Dead horse still being beaten!

dandelion 6 years, 1 month ago

"Lawrenceisverycrooked (Anonymous) says…Pay me 5 million bucks and I will buy 2 Suburbans. My wife will drive one and I will drive the other. Just call me and I will pick you up and take you where you want to go………….This makes more sense than whats happening now!"So you and your wife will be driving around town for 14 hours a day? I'm not aware of driving regulations, but I don't think that will be allowed; truck drivers can't drive that long. I think you would be shocked by how many calls you would get. How are you going to get people to the destinations on time? Why not try riding all the routes of the T, then you might change your mind about how many people ride. You can't judge ridership by sitting on your front porch and watching the same bus pass at the same time everyday, like the original writer does. He doesn't see who got off or on during the whole route. He doesn't see it all day long. He has never stepped foot on the bus himself. I guess it would be beneath him.

SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 1 month ago

We're all pathetically dependent on "essential" government handouts such as the emp-T. We slowly get numb to the higher and higher taxes it levies and the ever more invasive federal, state and local government. It's sad.Then we wake up one day with the government involved in every aspect of our lives, and we see our income confiscated by a government too greedy and stupid to stop itself.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

Dandelion-- the complaints are ideologically based, not fact-based. They don't want to be bothered by pesky reality.

alm77 6 years, 1 month ago

I took my vehicle to be serviced last week and took the "T" home. We rode the 7 and the 6 at 3:00 in the afternoon. 22 - yes, I counted every single person. There were 22 people who shared our ride on the "T" that day. Where are these empty busses I keep hearing about?

d_prowess 6 years, 1 month ago

I know there were a lot of LTEs that were pro-T prior to the election and I hope now those same people will continue to write in regarding the topic of redisgning the system so it is more efficient and user-friendly. Continuing to fund the T was only step one. It now must change for the better.

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 1 month ago

I dare Richard Heckler (aka merrill) to write something original about the T instead of simply cutting and pasting the same stuff over and over. It is unfortunate that Richard, one of the unelected, quasi-governmental "experts" in Lawrence chooses not to actually engage on the topic and instead simply repeats the same misinformed information over and over. For example, the notion that MV "puts $3,000,000 back into the local community" is, at best, incorrect and at worst a total lie. If I take $15 from you and give you back a $20, have I put $20 into your pocket? No. Similarly, MV is almost entirely taxpayer funded and thus isn't putting any money into the local economy that it hasn't taken in the form of taxes. The fact that it is the 23rd largest employer in Kansas says more about Kansas than MV.Another example from the Richard Heckler cut and past file:"The T's annual number of passengers passed 400,000 three years faster than in JOCO."Lie. The T statistics do not track the number of passengers and thus no one knows how many actual people use the T. The statistics track the number of one way rides. This is quite different from a passenger. For example, if you took the T from home to work and had to transfer once, you are counted as three rides. Your return trip would similarly be three rides. Thus one passenger can count a long way toward the number Richard regularly cuts and pastes as a T marketing tool.FYI: Richard doesn't use the T.

Eileen Jones 6 years, 1 month ago

The T is a valuable and needed service and the city needs to make the T better so it is more usable for everyone. Some parts of town require 2 or 3 transfers to get to. Some bus stops are only visited every 90 minutes or so. Raising the rates more does not make sense, though, because the idea is for it to be competitive with one person driving and parking a car. I think a LOT of money gets spent around town because of the T. Nearly everyone using the T is running around spending money, somewhere - in stores, at medical appointments, whatever.

Eileen Jones 6 years, 1 month ago

We had to have a tax increase to keep the T because the current city commission wanted to kill it, and they thought for sure the voters would vote against the tax increase. Their priorities are not my priorities. I cannot wait to vote NO to some of the commissioners next spring.

Eileen Jones 6 years, 1 month ago

People who watch the same bus at the same spot every day do not get an accurate picture of the ridership. If you watch the #6 in west Lawrence it is almost always nearly empty. But if you ride the whole route, you'll see many people get on and off at various places. It goes all the way to 6th/Wak because of Free State High and the pool. Most people get on/off at other places. Ride the T, don't just watch it go by - then you will know about ridership. Ride different buses at different times. At 5:00 they are all nearly full.

madameX 6 years, 1 month ago

Larry, if you actually think that making fun of the people who do ride the bus is a constructive way to advance your argument and that a bus system can be completely redesigned in three weeks (before the tax to support it has been put into effect, no less!) then you're hopeless.

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 1 month ago

"Stain (Anonymous) says… Ride the T, don't just watch it go by - then you will know about ridership. Ride different buses at different times. At 5:00 they are all nearly full."Actually, this is a terrible way to do it. A much better way is to run the numbers. When you do that, you quickly realize that, on average, there is .5 passengers per revenue mile. Thus it is statistically true that the T is, on average, empty.

Phil Minkin 6 years, 1 month ago

Actually, this is a terrible way to do it. A much better way is to run the numbers. When you do that, you quickly realize that, on average, there is .5 passengers per revenue mile. Thus it is statistically true that the T is, on average, empty.It's been said that there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Public transportation is a what economists call variable demand needing constant supply. It make no sense to run buses at only peak use periods so there will be variance in use during a 14 hour period. Apply your math to fire truck usage and argue for fewer trucks or stations.

madameX 6 years, 1 month ago

I do pay my own bills, thanks. Although I have been known to eat tofu from time to time.I'm aware that the property tax money for the bus system had been redirected, although I won't go so far as to presume where, and am not happy about that. I would have preferred to see the original funding restored but that's not the choice the city commision gave us. The choice was sales tax or no more bus system. Of course, we'll have the chance to choose different city commissioners later if we want to...The only reason the deal with KU was ever in jeopardy was that the funding for the city's end of the deal was uncertain because the vote hadn't happened yet. KU didn't want to agree to something before the vote and then later learn that there would be no money to pay for it. You missed my original point, though, which was that no major system overhaul of any kind can be planned and implemented in three weeks. Maybe you were being sarcastic, but if you weren't and you actually think there's a magic wand that can be waved to make that happen you've got bigger problems than I'll ever have.

notajayhawk 6 years, 1 month ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says… "Funny, none of the experts above are requesting that all the tax subsidies to their private auto use should be ended."Why is it that the perpetuators of this tired old excuse for an argument never seem to realize that the 'subsidies' paid for private vehicle operation are paid by the same people who benefit from those 'subsidies' - which can not be said about the T. The owners/operators of the 250 million registered passenger vehicles in this country pay the overwhelming majority of the cost of roads, and even the few who don't own or drive a car benefit from those roads (which the mT needs to operate, too). In contrast, everybody pays this sales tax while only a small handful of people benefit from it. That's the 'pesky reality,' boohoozo.***foodboy (Anonymous) says… "Public transportation is a what economists call variable demand needing constant supply. It make no sense to run buses at only peak use periods so there will be variance in use during a 14 hour period. Apply your math to fire truck usage and argue for fewer trucks or stations."Then why don't the buses run outside the hours of 6 am - 8 pm and on Sundays & holidays? (Firetrucks do.) The mT does run only on 'peak' periods.

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 1 month ago

"foodboy (Anonymous) says… It's been said that there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Public transportation is a what economists call variable demand needing constant supply. It make no sense to run buses at only peak use periods so there will be variance in use during a 14 hour period. Apply your math to fire truck usage and argue for fewer trucks or stations."Congratulations captain obvious! Although someone else made the point that the T is already run at "peak hours," I'm not suggesting that the hours should be further reduced. What I am suggesting is that there is, statistically, no demand for this service.Regarding your analogy to fire and police service: fire and police services are core services that impact everyone. Public transit is not a core service and has very little impact on non-users when usage is so low.

d_prowess 6 years, 1 month ago

Call me an idiot for voting to support public transportation, but then 70% of Lawrence must be idiots. I can't fault anyone for being upset that these taxes passed when they didn't want them to, but they did. Be mad and just accept that you are surrounded by a large idiot majority. And to the idiotic 70%, let's now keep the LTEs coming for a redesign of the system and request updates on the progress towards such a change.

sjschlag 6 years, 1 month ago

This letter cracks me up! I thought we were done with this debate. The people have spoken, and they want a bus system.

notajayhawk 6 years, 1 month ago

sjschlag (Anonymous) says… "The people have spoken, and they want a bus system."Yes. They don't, however, actually USE a bus system.

budwhysir 6 years, 1 month ago

The wheels on the bus go round and roundin the seats no one is found.buy them new buy them bigwe should all enjoy this money loosing gig

budwhysir 6 years, 1 month ago

I would like to list the things I want and a non functional bus system does not make the top 1000

BigPrune 6 years, 1 month ago

Did someone say this past election was rigged -and that's why the T Bus passed by a mind boggling landslide? Oh, I'm sorry I was reading an article about the Bush/Gore election.

notajayhawk 6 years, 1 month ago

witchfindergeneral (Anonymous) says… "I except T ridership will increase if the proposed merger with the KU bus system sees daylight. The KU buses are incredibly overcrowded and the merger should help balance ridership for both KU and the T."Too bad it won't increase revenues, since KU students ride the mT for free.

crimsonlaugh 6 years, 1 month ago

The tax questions were approved by a majority of voters. Time to get over it.Dead horse, indeed.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 1 month ago

Mr. Harmon, How many autos were at the same intersection with only one occupant in each? Do you really think that the demands of those autos don't cost the city? Who is paying for more lanes, better traffic lights, maintenance, and parking lots?if you are really concerned about saving money, get rid of your vehicles and ride the bus. You won't have vehicle taxes, cost of gas, auto insurance, etc. Besides, cities do not make money. The city government provides services funded by tax dollars, even to you.

UGOTTABEKIDDINME 6 years, 1 month ago

really glad to see that all the journal readers are from the west side of town. i rely on the bus to get to and from work every day because the cost of feeding my son doesn't let me buy a car. would u prefer i quit my job and go on welfare and take more of your "precious" tax dollars (which most of the nice rich folks dont have to pay as much as i do cause they are creating jobs) or pay a lil to help us that would prefer to make our own way without welfare handouts!! think please before u slam a lil tax before u have to pay a big one

budwhysir 6 years, 1 month ago

hear_me:I believe I saw exactly what you are talking about. Several cars I passed where working desperatly to dodge all the chuck holes in the streets that arent blocked off by road closed signs. Only question I have is why replace a maintenance system that doesnt work with a transportation system that will never work?I am also amazed at how man people "rely" on the bus system to get to work. In my every day world, I have learned to not rely on any tax run company. And how will these people feel with the possibility of loosing thier job and still being faced with paying extra taxes to a bus system that is loosing money. Remember if youre income reduces, your taxes will still stay the same.However maybe Im just thinking in to large of picture. According to figures, if all 10 of the bus riders loose thier job, this company could continue to loose money and still be funded

notajayhawk 6 years, 1 month ago

hear_me (Anonymous) says… "Do you really think that the demands of those autos don't cost the city? Who is paying for more lanes, better traffic lights, maintenance, and parking lots?"The thousands of residents and visitors driving those cars. Not the handful riding the mT.

mapboy 6 years, 1 month ago

I didn't read but the first few posts on this thread. That was enough for me to once again realize the short-sightedness of some in this community. Here are the facts: Only two or three public transit systems in the world make a profit, and those are in Europe. Sometimes the city provides a service because it is the right thing to do. You wouldn't expect the city to not provide water and sewer or trash pickup because it doesn't make money, would you? Lawrence has one of the better transit systems in the state and we should keep it that way. The voters said so in a landslide. Consider Johnson County where a majority of the buses only run during the morning or evening commute. Every member of society deserves the right to live a decent life, and for many, especially in a town like Lawrence, this means depending on pubic transit that gets them where they need to go. We should be asking how to expand service rather than cutting the system. Perhaps we should be asking the city commission to end tax breaks and incentives to developers. Just a thought.

mapboy 6 years, 1 month ago

It helps if you have a way to get to your job, doesn't it?

notajayhawk 6 years, 1 month ago

mapboy (Anonymous) says… "Every member of society deserves the right to live a decent life, and for many, especially in a town like Lawrence, this means depending on pubic transit that gets them where they need to go."Um - then why aren't they using it?"We should be asking how to expand service rather than cutting the system."Nobody's using it now, so we should spend more and make it bigger. Good idea.

Matthew Herbert 6 years, 1 month ago

I will happily support the T WHEN IT IS REFORMED AND EFFICIENT. But, so long as the city has citizens paying for it, they need not worry about reforming it to make it work properly!

Commenting has been disabled for this item.