There already is $300,000,000 for CATS

Today I read on the front page of the B section of my Advocate that CATS – which is our Capital Area Transit System – has a glorious new plan for more taxes to fund certain changes in the system. The system is hopeless as it is now. It’s not a bus system, it’s a patronage trough. The budget is $12,000,000 and the system is perennially on the verge of being shut down. That’s been going on for years. And the changes that a Blue Ribbon panel, (no, really, that’s what the paper called it,) recommends are rather good in my humble opinion, except one.

Chief among them is getting rid of the 22nd Street terminal. It’s terminal alright, it’s in the midst of fields of cemeteries and every single bus has to go there to do something and idle and push fumes in the air and then go all the way back out to where its route is. It’s the strangest arrangement I’ve ever seen. There would be a savings of a few bucks, and just sell that land to someone right away. And another change that’s good, if it’s done, is to put the bus system on the grid system – such as we have it here. It’s a tangle of roads for sure, but still, there are ways to go from one side of the city to the other even if one does have to make a turn here or there to another street name if one desires to go from say Lee Drive and Nicholson Drive near the river, and cross over Perkins Road to College Drive – which is the same street but different name, then, make the twist through the municipal golf course on up to Foster Drive and then head north all the way to Airline Highway. It’s a fairly straight shot, but not like say, 5th Avenue in Manhattan is.

Then the paper mentions “three express lines.” But doesn’t say from where to where. Presumably to downtown, but from where? All the way out in Denham Springs or down Prairieville way, which is “out the parish” as we say? That is, those two bedroom communities for the big city lie in other parishes and not in East Baton Rouge. But they’re in the “capital area” alright, that’s for sure. And what about from over in West Baton Rouge? It’s just a river between them; if NYC can get across a river with a subway train on a bridge, so can a bus cross the Mississippi from West to East and back again.

But it’s the tax that bugs me. We already have the money – it’s right there in $300,000,000 for “high speed rail” boondoggle. The one proposed for us, and soundly and rightly rejected by our Gov Jindal, is for a train speeding along from Baton Rouge to New Orleans in an hour and a half – or what it takes to drive there at 70 miles an hour which is the posted speed limit nearly all the way. But the big bucks can’t be used for such a lowly thing as a city bus. Why, it’s for mass transit of the future!

Now, a new sales tax, or a sales tax hike, is not possible, because it’s capped by law. So what the geniuses decided was to create a “special tax district” in some but not all of the parish, to levy, a get this: a sales tax. That’s right, it’s illegal to raise the sales tax in the city or parish – but hey if we make a “transit district” in the exact same space we can raise the sales tax all the live long day. And whom will pay this sales tax disproportionately? Why the very poor folks who don’t have cars and would use the bus. And because all previous attempts to levy a transit tax have failed, they’re going to try to gerrymander the transit district and whom gets to vote on it so that the votes might be had to raise the sales tax beyond it’s legal level. It’s called government thought, and it’s nuts.

The geniuses are all faith-based and community organizers and Democrats I’m sure. And so why did they not ask Obama to let that money for pointless trains be used for the bus system. And what a bus system that could be bought for $300,000,000! Why, it’d be incredible. It might actually serve the Capital Area and while they’re at it provide a bus from BR to NO every 20 minutes 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And it would take, oh, an hour and a half to get there. And it could be electric buses since it’s only 80 miles and that should be enough if a bus can go a 100 before recharging, if one wanted to be green about it.

But no, Obama wants the money for high speed rails. He dangled $4 Billion at Florida, but they saw the absurdity of it, and the boondoggle nature of it, and so said, “no, but could we use the $4 Billion for like, um, other stuff, a bus or two maybe?” Obama said, “no,” and took his ball of money out of play and is going to give it to some other state. Which is weird. For if each state was to be given just what it needed for high speed rail then how is it fair that Florida loses $4 billion of its tax dollars to some other state? After all, Floridians paid those taxes, that’s the rational behind the Feds giving the money back to Florida – every state pays the same in and gets the same out. Right? Nope. It seems Florida, and Louisiana, and who knows where else, are getting screwed to the proportion of money that Obama will not let them have. And how taking away $300,000,000 which could be used to do wonders for his fellow community organizers and African-Americans who are the ones using the bus system mostly is good for anyone I don’t know.

Meanwhile, California’s boondoggle so boondoggled itself up in knots that it’s recommended that they start all over from the beginning and make up new numbers, for the old numbers showed themselves to be completely unworkable mush. So now millions were spent figuring out the obvious – high speed rail is pointless. And with our terrain it’s barely feasible. The reason high speed rail works in Europe, to the degree it does, is that, well, the place is pretty flat and you can drive around the Alps. On the other hand, were there are hills and such there, boy do those trains slow down.

But you see, we got this problem. Our cities are too far apart, and there’s mountains in the way out west, and between say Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, or Chattanooga and Nashville. And not enough people need to travel from Miami to Orlando for anything much to require a train. And the few places where trains make sense is DC to Boston and alas, there’s stuff in the way, and New York Harbor is a bummers to get around. Now, Obama wants one from Chicago to Detroit. Why? Everyone is leaving Detroit – and no one is going back anytime soon. That city is done for. Short of legalizing heroin and prostitution nothing is going to work, and I think some politicians are thinking of that too.

No one is going to move back to Detroit and build a shiny factory so the people who left will come back, or the ½ of the city which is said to be functionally illiterate will all of sudden smarten up and get a job. No, the best thing for Detroit is to further disperse the population so that they might be tended to easily, or see something else beside decrepitude and get a move on. Just like many poor blacks never went back to New Orleans once they realized that Houston and Dallas were actually working cities where they could live better lives. No, get out of Detroit and make that place a park. The numbnuts there are even working on a bigger new bridge to Canada for some reason, as if that will help. Even the corrupt former mayor of Detroit moved to Dallas. They found him though, and he’s pokey bound probably.

Still, CATS, you got $300,000,000 right there in the hands of your friend Obama. Go ask him for it. And don’t raise your own taxes higher on your people who can’t afford the taxes they got now.

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