Woody Jenkins and the Taxbusters folks are out in front of the effort to repeal that $18 million boondoggle. Metro Councilman Buddy Amoroso says the tax can’t be repealed unless the CATS board votes to repeal it.
And five votes out of nine are needed on the board for that. No chance for a repeal with the current makeup; the new chairman Marston Fowler says he’s not for repeal.
Fowler also says people will be happier with CATS in two or three months. He has nothing at all to offer on which to base that, other than that the current CEO does seem to be less crooked than anybody they’ve had in that job in forever.
But there will be three new CATS board members appointed soon. It’s possible, with the right new people appointed to the board, that the tax could be repealed.
That would be a good thing. There is no possible justification for giving this proven graft engine $18 million a year from the productive sector in Baton Rouge.
In fact, as mass transit expert Randal O’Toole of the CATO Institute notes and Jenkins echoes, there is no reason why a bus system has to be public at all…
During the mid-20th century, private transit companies served the vast majority of American cities. These companies operated profitable, if declining, businesses in the face of increasing auto ownership. A big handicap was that transit companies were considered public utilities and were highly regulated, having to seek government permission for every route change, fare increase, or other service change. For private transit firms, buses were becoming a less expensive, more flexible, and safer transit mode than streetcars or other types of rail transit.
The beginning of the end for private transit came in 1964 with the Urban Mass Transit Act. The act promised federal capital grants to any public agencies that took over private transit companies. Within a decade, the private transit industry was virtually wiped out, replaced almost completely by tax-subsidized public agencies.
Today, city governments that are frustrated with automobiles and congestion are turning to the 19th century technology of rail transit for relief. But pumping subsidies into rail transit is based on a nostalgic view of the past and is not economically sound. It also won’t solve America’s congestion woes.
O’Toole would have a field day with CATS.