Mayor Dave Bieter persistently pursues his pet project: cute trolleys running through our fair city. The latest manifestation of this fantasy is the “T” Circulator. Publicly revealed statistics from City Hall point out the error of his ways.
A bus system option (which the mayor doesn’t like) is projected to cost $23 million in startup costs and $2.2 million to operate, although it’s not clear if the latter figure includes debt service. Projected riders on the free bus would total 380,000 per year. Sounds impressive until you do the math. Each rider would cost the city $5.80, and if there are higher operating costs or fewer riders, the cost per rider would rise even higher.
If you look at the numbers on the trolley system, it’s even worse — $111 million to kick it off, $3.3 million in operating costs, 450,000 riders per year, and an astronomical $7.30 per ride. Guess who subsidizes this?
Shouldn’t we create a public transportation system that has the flexibility to meet changing needs? Shouldn’t we be looking for a market-based system that doesn’t require a capital investment, doesn’t swell the city’s staff, doesn’t increase pension costs and doesn’t have such a high risk of failure?
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Rich O’Hara, Boise