Consider the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) which serves Pinellas County (Florida).
PSTA has proposed switching its funding source from property taxes to a sales tax by increasing it 200% to construct a light-rail line and expanded bus system. The “environmental” idea is to lower emissions from automobiles by providing citizens better mass transportation.
Okay. That’s a good...as an idea.
But, how will it play in the real world?
A Cato Institute report questions whether either project is worth the increased sales tax $$$s:
- First: consider the real costs. Light rail is inferior to bus service, which can transport passengers more comfortably for far less $$$s.
- Second: consider the need. Between 1991 and 2005, PSTA increased its bus service 46%. Guess what? Ridership didn't increase. Not only that, passenger miles traveled declined 17% and average bus occupancy dropped by 44%. Hmmm…
- Third: consider ridership. PSTA claims to need the increased tax revenue to deal with the growth in bus ridership. However, this growth took place between 2008 and 2009. This is 2014, no? Then, too, bus occupancy in Pinellas County in 2012 averaged 8 riders/bus. That’s 21.3% below the national average of 11 riders/bus.
- Fourth: consider the costs/benefits. The benefits of PSTA’s proposal are so out of whack with its costs that the proposal wouldn’t have qualified for federal funding according to 2013 Department of Transportation rules.
PTSA’s proposal is yet another one of the idea of those who worship at the altar of environmentalism to promote the “the greening the America” that’s good as an idea but is doomed to failure in the real world. That is, unless those who worship at the altar of environmentalism can get municipalities and states to raise taxes on the 48% of people who pay them.
The magnitude of the lack of basic knowledge of economics on the part of those who worship at the altar of environmentalism when promoting many of their pet projects evidences itself in one statistic appearing in the Cato Institute report: Building PSTA's light-rail line will be so expensive that it would be cheaper for Pinellas County to give every new round-trip commuter—who would otherwise use proposed the light-rail system every single year for 30 years—a new Toyota Prius!
Let the discussion begin…
To read the Cato Institute report, click on the following link:
“Review of Greenlight Pinellas.”