The high powered hype for the High Speed Boondoggle Express is underway again. Yesterday’s item was an opinion column. Today’s is presented as a straight news item.
The column starts by informing us that a $2 million federal grant will not be used for actual construction. "Instead, it’s money to complete the final round of studies needed to apply for another federal grant that would help pay for the buses and stations."
We’re talking $100 million here, which should be crumbs falling from the table in Washington where we’re looking at an annual deficit of about $500 billion to be added to a debt of $17 trillion. If we’re not careful we’ll be derided as "world class" pikers for worrying about such a piddling amount!
But not to worry about financing. The columnist alerts us to the fact that, given an imaginative combination of federal and local money sources, the need to use the so widely touted referendum could be avoided and we won’t have to worry about whether the people really want this project saddled on themselves.
In referring to the construction, in the news item this morning, the mayor is quoted as saying, "This will put us on the map, give us a leg up." On which map and "up" to where, we have no idea.
The plans are to start with the so–called Red Line, otherwise known as the Stadium-Palladium Line. A map shows that to be the case, despite several references to the affirmative possibilities of extending the line to Westfield.
Of course, economic development possibilities are also discussed, particularly those which might arise around the station stops planned. "Officials said the line could spur new businesses such as barbecue shacks, craft breweries and cupcake shops." (We’re not kidding, folks. That’s a direct quote.)
The only new news is the fact that we are now planning on using electric buses which will require major changes to the infrastructure in and along the streets among the lucky neighborhoods which will be the beneficiaries of the new routes. No mention of any reduction of total assessed value by widened right-of-way taken out of the base.
One councilwoman tells us the people don’t really know what they want until someone a lot smarter tells them. Congressman Carson joined that sentiment by saying, "Sometimes people have to see it to believe it can work." Like having to pass a 2,500 page law to find out what’s in it?
All of this, of course, is in the face of current reduction in existing bus service because of lack of patronage. And there is no reference at all to future planning to help the poor joker who just wants to get across town from home to job.
Any bets on when that will take place?