Thursday, August 15, 2013

Kenley Owns Nuvo Reporter On Debate Over Mass Transit

Nuvo reporter Rebecca Townsend thought she had hit upon a "gotcha" moment when she challenged Sen. Luke Kenley's contention that highway infrastructure spending, unlike mass transit spending, was entirely supported by user fees. I recommend you check out Townsend's interview with Kenley where she also wades into the global warming debate with Kenley, who owns her on both issues. On the mass transit funding comparison, Kenley explains:
The gas tax itself is a little over $500 million. When you add in all these other fees that are related to highway usage, you get up to a total annually of about $1.1 billion. We also charge sales tax on gasoline, which yields another $500 million; that gets state revenues to be used for INDOT and highway funding up to $1.6 billion.
Then you add to that whatever we get from the federal gas tax and the federal allocation. Now in recent years . . . the revenues on the gas tax both for the sate and federal government has been falling a little bit because of fuel efficiency and so the feds have actually funded some of their highway fund distributions out of some reserves that have been established through prior usage on the highways, so it gets a little fuzzy . . . but even transfers from the general fund are actually from highway user fee-related reserves.
I think the point is, in the big picture, that virtually all the capital costs of the infrastructure improvements and the annual maintenance of the highways is paid for by user fees. In the case of mass transit, even under the plan presented by CIRTA, zero percent of the capital infrastructure costs will be paid by user fee. In other words, you'll never pay that off; you just have to take it from some other revenue source.
Across the nation, the direct fare box only generates 16 percent of the operating cost for the mass transit system. So you have a huge subsidy by percentile of any mass transit system, whereas even if you think you can find some subsidy for the highways, it's a very, very small percentage and it may not even exist.
As the Indy Connect folks stage public hearings with paid actors that are being presented by the media as legitimate citizens clamoring for more mass transit, yet another scandal is threatening to claim another member of Chicago's suburban rail transit system's board. In recent weeks, at least four board members have resigned from Metra's board over news reports of cronyism run amok. There's now pressure on a fifth board member to resign after news reports surfaced that he lives in a luxury million dollar downtown condo instead of the suburbs where he claimed he lived when he was appointed to the board. State law allows only one member of the board to be from Chicago. The rest must live in the suburbs. Stanley Rakestraw claims that he thought he could live anywhere in Cook County when he was appointed to the board earlier this year, even though he listed a home that burned down two years ago in Flossmoor as his residence on his ethics statement. If the residency issue didn't disqualify him from serving on the board, his business should have. According to the Tribune, his business relies on Pace and Metra for its existence:
Rakestraw is co-founder, vice president and chief operating officer of SCR Medical Transportation. The Tribune also determined Wednesday that Rakestraw's company provides paratransit services for Pace and a shuttle service that transports disabled Metra patrons from nonaccessible stations. The shuttle service, and Rakestraw's company's name, is listed on Metra's website.
Indy's multi-billion dollar mass transit boondoggle is being driven entirely by the Rakestraw types who are already divvying up the contracts they expect to flow once they succeed in getting a dedicated stream of tax revenues flowing into fund an unelected, totally unaccountable governmental entity. CIRTA's long-time executive director has already joined a private mass transit solutions provider that hopes to win contracts from the metropolitan mass transit system. They could care less about whether there is any need for the mass transit system they are proposing.


Paul K. Ogden said...

She also kept pushing the global warming line, trying to tie it to the need for mass transit. Kenley refused to buy the reporters premise of dangerous man-made global warming that was threatening the planet. But she kept asking the questions.

Anonymous said...

In all parts of he country, there are some truly goofy people behind public transit. It's a magnet issue for outcasts.

If you want to see some further bad ideas on public transit, check out the Urban Indy blog, where those "delicate souls" are proposing all sorts of ways to destroy streets for car travel to force people to use means of transportation they have long ago rejected.

Whenever a good post is authored that debunks their bad ideas, they delete it.

What sort of broken homes and abusive childhoods were these meddling people raised in that steers their minds toward such abusive, controlling, arrogant and unwanted ideas?

Why does today's culture indulge such deviancy and treat such aberrant people as full equals?

Ellen said...

Until Indy has a mass transit system sufficient to ferry workers from their homes to their jobs, the city will continue its decline.

Flogger said...

It is sad that the issue of Mass Transit seems to have become a binary choice. I do believe our Mass transit system needs to be improved. Mass Transit should be a piece of the transportation puzzle.

That said I do not believe Light Rail will solve the transportation issue. An incremental expansion more routes and and improved service on the routes could be plan.

Public Transportation and the service it provides should not be a trip to the pig trough of Crony-Capitalism.

Anonymous said...

Until Indy has a mass transit system sufficient to ferry workers from their homes to their jobs, the city will continue its decline.

This is hilarious. The entire country is in decline, and it isn't ever going to get better. The fact is, the US of A is kaput. Local, state, and federal governments have reviled that we are mostly a nation of liars and individual narcissists. This is why more and more countries will thumb their nose at us in the future.

On the federal level we printed mounds of debt that can't be paid off. At the state and local level, we write all sorts of bonds and make payment promises that only an idiot can ever believe will be paid off. In order to truly fund things like billion dollar sport stadiums, million dollar facility giveaways, and billion dollar mass transit systems, taxes would have to be astronomical.

Of course massive taxation won't happen, but that is the one thing that eventually wakens the masses, just like the property tax issue. A fancy train won't save Indy, it won't save Chicago, or any other city. Between the massive mounds of outstanding IOU payments (pension, social security, etc.), unaffordable municipal bond amounts, and more and more counties of the world in chaos, why do you think a silly train will make the future any brighter?

Pete Boggs said...

Myth transit proponents should prefer pedestrian alternatives that encourage lower costs of government (COG, let's say), taxes & fees, so as to encourage business to locate in the city; vs. blight rail distance of the suburbs.