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Bush vs. effective public transit

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Via DMZ, I learn that this year, the Metro shuttles that connected park and rides to Safeco field before and after Mariners games will no longer exist. The Mariners paid for some but not all of the cost and the riders paid three dollars. Congestion is pretty horrible before and after games.

Why has this ended? Because a private company put in a bid to provide the service, at roughly three times the cost, which the Mariners rejected as too expensive. But thanks to a Bush era change in FTA rules, as long as any private company puts in a bid to provide charter services for a public event, public transit agencies were prohibited from providing such services. The quality or the reasonableness of the bid notwithstanding.

The CEO of Starline, Gladys Gillis: “The Mariners want the taxpayer to pay for it.” This makes about as much sense as claiming downtown employers are soaking the taxpayers since Metro offers more and express buses during rush hour. The mission of Metro or any public transit agency is to provide affordable and efficient transportation to where people actually want to go, when they want to go there. Gillis’s argument is either an argument against the very idea of public transportation or it’s irrelevant. This regulation is a ham-fisted bit of ideological anti-government nonsense perpetrated by an intrusive and overbearing government regulation. As such, it nicely encapsulates the performative contradiction at the heart of modern conservatism. DMZ puts it nicely:

This is the whole point of public transportation. The system’s in place. The incremental cost for Metro, which has buses, drivers, maintenance, and all that infrastructure in place is low. For Starline, which has to pay people like Chief Executive Gladys Gillis to make objectivist arguments about the societal cost of bus systems, it’s higher.

A charter service put in a bid to provide this service for UW football games, but didn’t have enough handicap-accessible buses, so they subcontracted with Metro to provide the service. For attendees of the games, it appeared as if nothing changed, but UW was actually paying much more, and to a private company rather than Metro.

Original story about the regulation here. It’s not the most important thing in the world, but there’s really no defensible reason for the Obama administration to keep this rule in place.

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