Monday, May 07, 2007

MTA, the Murder Bus, and Racist Subsidies

Remember when we talked about local subsidies for public transportation? Okay, it was a while back, you're forgiven. But sounds like somebody heard our cries in the desert. Well, probably not, but regardless, there's a brouhaha brewing over rail and bus subsidies in LA, just like there was in SanFran a while back.

The MTA, claiming a $100-million operating deficit, wants us to believe that punishing its riders is its only choice. But it continues to subsidize rail projects at absurd levels.

About $57 million is spent on operations for Metrolink — a subsidy of about $5 a rider — which serves the whitest, most affluent suburban transit users. For the Gold Line, weekday ridership is 19,000 at an operating subsidy for each passenger of almost $7. The three Wilshire/Whittier bus lines, the most heavily utilized and effective in the nation, carry 90,000 daily passengers at a subsidy of 79 cents each.

That's Eric Mann and Manuel Criollo in the LAT. Even if you don't believe that disproportionate subsidies are the consequence of racism, the two activists (of the Labor/Community Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union, respectively) bring up a good point: who deserves a free handout? That is, how do you determine who gets their housing/transportation/education subsidized and who doesn't? It's a tricky question and one that points out the inherent difficulties relying on a government body to determine who deserves what.

We don't have time to do the subject justice now, but it's worth taking revisiting. With the Gold Line expanding eastward and Foothill Transit heavily subsidizing bus riders, it's a challenge equally applicable to our cities as it is to LA.

[via Bottleneck Blog]


Anonymous said...

Nice graphic...I didn't think that beer from lunch hit me that hard. I thought I was seeing things.

Centinel said...

No, that would be Hulk Hogan hitting you that hard. He's that intense.

P.S. Beer at lunch? I should work at your office.

Centinel said...

Whoops, looks my three martini lunch did hit me that hard. Sorry, Gold Line.

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