How Governments Waste Our Money On Transportation

A million dollar waste of your tax money ends March 1st in Newport News (Daily Press Feb 13, 2007). The ‘Jump Over Jeff’ bus service ends. A Federal grant and some city money paid for service between two new urban shopping/living districts, Port Warwick and City Center which are maybe a mile apart – ‘jumping over Jefferson’ Avenue. The tax money paid for two buses and drivers. It cost a quarter to ride. The buses averaged 12 riders a day. Twelve. One Dozen.

There’s $1.5m left on the grant, so Newport News bureaucrats will start up a new bus route connecting Christopher Newport University , the centers and a shopping mall until that money runs out.

It’s wrong that the Federal government has so much money to throw away in boondoogles. A million here and a million there and soon you are talking about real money (to paraphrase Everett Dirksen). A million dollars more in Medicaid would mean what to Virginia? Or in Social Security?

It’s wrong that Newport News would employ a grant writer and covet the money – just because it is there.

It’s wrong for both governments to waste money on a less than brilliant transportation ‘solution’. If there was a economic need for the service a commercial enterprise could provide it. The governments would do well to make sure there are no barriers to bus/taxi/jeepney/rickshaw service – because if it is needed so much, then the citizens will pay for it.

This genius for wasting money is the same thinking for the big six projects for Hampton Roads in the Transportation bills in conference committee – that actually INCREASE the congested miles after 20 years.

This genius for wasting money is found in the same people who will be running the new level of government – the same unelected, unaccountable, unseparated powers Regional Government in the same Transportation abortion bills.

Thanks tax and spend Republicans. Thanks a lot.

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11 responses to “How Governments Waste Our Money On Transportation”

  1. E M Risse Avatar

    James Bowden:

    All this will not end until folks like you who hate to see governace pratcitioners waste money join the effort to secure Fundamental Change in governace structure.


  2. Anonymous Avatar

    How does governance structure prevent idiots from governing?

  3. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    We have a similiar Fed-subsidized bus service in Fredericksburg called FRED .. and yes the same 25cents per ride.

    This has come up frequently and the FRED folks say that the bus service is for “underserved” people who either cannot afford a car or are in circumstances where they cannot use a car.

    On this bus…you will see students from the local college, elderly, those with disabilities and some unsavory types to boot.

    My county supervisors have commented that for the cost of the Bus system – you could buy taxi rides for everyone and spend less money.

    The bus folks respond that yes.. right now that is true.. but as the area grows… that you won’t and the time to start the system is BEFORE you reach that point.

    I thin my major complaint is that everyone can afford a buck or so and if not.. then give those that can’t vouchers.

  4. It’s the same deal for those fed subsidized air terminals that werre built everywhere, and still stand unused.

    If the fed money is free, why not use it?

  5. E M Risse Avatar

    James Bowden:

    One other thing; it will not help to get others who’s only guideing star is “no more taxes” or “cut spending” to run against the tax and spenders in the next election.

    Some may win in November. However, until there is there is Fundamental Change in governace structure and Fundamental Change in settlement pattern the cost of goods and services, especially public services and utilities such as transport will continue to go up.

    In the following election the “no tax and no spend” mantra folks will be tossed out by citizens who what services. Citizens will continue to vote for those who promise to “fix things.”

    Citizens do not mind taxes, they just want what they pay to fix what is wrong. That will not happend without Fundamental Change is human settlement patterns.

    Anon 10:23:

    Fundamental Change is governance will increase citizen participation, foster transparentcy and create levels of governance that are congruent with the level of the problem. This will encourage citizes with a different perspective to run for public office.


  6. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    The budget is about priorities.

    There are those who prefer more money rather than make hard choices especially if the money is not their own.

    The way to fix this is to charge for use.

    Even Schools.

    Taxpayers should pay for basic quality education – that meets performance standards for ALL students AND is sufficient to get them to the next step – either further education or a technical job.

    Those who want “more” … more creative.. more sports.. more “clubs”, or more education so that their kids can get into Yale rather than VaTech then fine…
    pay for them. Schools would offer “extras” simply on how much demand there is for them – in “customer” dollars not taxpayer dollars.

    The same thing for roads. Provide the basic roads.

    If you are one of those who want to commute (or thinks he must) then fine.. make your choice and pay for what you want that others don’t need or want to pay for.

    Widespread Irresponsible personal behaviors lead to legislatively irresponsible responses.

    We blame our legislators but in the end – we are the problem.

    We always want our needs paid for and we always want others needs defunded.

    So those with KIDS want gold-plated schools and those that commute want gold-plated roads – paid for by others.

  7. E M Risse Avatar



    A very good post.

    Did someone say fairly allocate the location variable costs?


  8. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Good post, JAB. Throwing money at mass transit is no more a solution than throwing money at roads. This is what you get when you combine local government transit monopolies with “free” federal money.

    Shared ridership services like buses, vans, taxis and jitneys could be part of the transportation solution, but it will take Fundamental Change to get there. First, open up the market to competition. Second, create pedestrian-friendly environments that make walking/mass transit an attractive option. Third, make the changes systemic. People are not going to abandon their cars just because there are buses on a single route. A fraction of them will abandon their cars (or, more likely, abandon one car and keep another) if a shared-ridership system lets them reach a wide variety of destinations.

  9. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    EMR – yes.

    In fact, I’m not sure if we get to balanced communities anytime soon if we don’t allocate monetary costs to individuals who cause those monetary costs with their choices.

    The question I think, to ask when we expend taxpayer dollars – is – if we don’t fund something with taxpayer dollars are people’s safety and health and welfare imperiled?

    The criteria is imperiled – not degraded or a host of other words to describe wants rather than needs or to attempt to portray wants as needs.

    Because we cannot muster the necessary discipline to differentiate – we actually end up imperiling… innocent kids who do not have health insurance.

    We imperil pregnant women and kids because we spend money on things other than insuring that mercury is not pervasive in our environment.

    We imperil the elderly, young kids, and those with compromised immune systems and respiratory illness in urban areas because we PRIORTIZE the “wants” of people to commute – not for better health themselves but so they can obtain more money for fancier homes and late model SUVs.

    We should charge not only for location choices but we should charge for the pollution generated by those same choices.

    This is absolutely nothing wrong with each of us paying our fair share of things that we say we need.

    If we did this simple thing with JUST ROADS- we’d not have John Chichesters in the GA running amok and Conservatives would have to find another cause other than opposition to higher taxes.

    We keep saying “smaller government” but when push comes to shove… many of us “demand” that Government (VDOT) do “something” to respond to the “crisis” that we ourselves produce by expecting more infrastructure than we actually are willing to pay for.

    TOLL the roads – and we make major inroads on the higher taxes problem.

  10. E M Risse Avatar

    James Bowden:

    Check out Mr. Leahy’s post above.

    Fundamental Change is the way forward, not more partisan politics. That only plays into the hands of the Duopoly.


  11. Until there is there is Fundamental Change in governace structure and Fundamental Change in settlement pattern the cost of goods and services, especially public services and utilities such as transport will continue to go up.

    Since Fundamental Change of either Governance or settlement patterns, let alone both, is far into the future, if ever, I guess the cost of goods and services will go up.

    If we change governance and settlement patterns, the costs of goods and services will still go up, and we will have to pay for all the changes and reconstruction as well.

    I don’t see much weight behind the idea that things will be better and cheaper with Fundamental Change. I’d say the chaces are better than 50/50 that we could have fundamental change for the worse as easily as for the better, especially when you throw in the costs associated with change.

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