Bus Down, Commuters Up

Told You So

Read all about it: MTD (Metropolitan Transit District) lost 1.4 million riders!

It must be difficult for groups that so diligently read and adhered to the anti-car positions published in The Santa Barbara Independent over the years. These same trends are reported in Orange County and Los Angeles’ Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

Cars Are Basic (CAB) has accurately reported the decline in commuter bicycle riding, the decline in bus usage, and the increase in single-passenger auto use. CAB does its best to represent the 90-percent-plus of commuters, personal auto use residents, and workers on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County.

The Independent states from 2009-2015 a loss of 1.4 million riders. It makes it appear this was gradual. When CAB reported the 2014 official count from MTD stating it lost 170,000 riders, it was called a fluke and propaganda by CAB. Of course the same was said when CAB used the Bicycle Coalition statement from its website of a decline in bike ridership. Groups and politicians who depend on political favoritism to a) get development projects or b) social acceptance for failure in planning, were and are not willing to admit the truth. Now the same groups are faced with the last six months’ drop of 8 percent, over the previous six months.

The Independent article did its best to favorably report what it has berated CAB for reporting for years. CAB stated the decline in bike use (not part of this article) was due to better express routes by MTD, and illegal [residents] getting driver licenses. While using every turn in logic to justify crashing fare-box returns and continuing inefficient routes, MTD unwittingly made CAB’s point. People living in a “free society” will chose what works best for them. When it comes to private transportation that becomes affordable for the “masses” (thank you, Henry Ford), public transportation, including the devastatingly expensive rail and bus systems, are ignored. The backhanded slap inference, the article take against autos use, is to the effect: how dare fuel costs decline and make individual preference viable! More dollars in the pocket means a healthier economy and community.

MTD Board Chair Dave Davis is a cliché of political correctness. Davis (former community development director of Santa Barbara, Community Environmental Council executive director, and more) continues to ignore the business devastation he helped create by narrowing State Street, not providing proper parking, and supporting anti-business policies. MTD Director Jerry Estrada commenting about Santa Barbara supporting mass transit is revealing in light of failing ridership. Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and the council majority have embarked on a “high density” planning that will destroy what remains of main arterial travel and create horrible neighborhood “cut-thru” traffic. What makes Santa Barbara unique is being intentionally destroyed. The only way out, to save their collective reputations, is bikes, walking, and buses. All of which will not work.

If more dollars paid out were the issue, higher rents would mean more bus passengers. Ridership is down because of lost jobs and more drivers. S.B. City College for years has been “forcing” students to pay for bus passes they do not use, passes Isla Vista-resident SBCC students could use.

We could go into depth about the article’s comment about UCSB, whose students’ bus use is like the desert mirage.

The bottom line is, for most people, that the automobile provides safe, efficient, flexible, and pleasant transportation that they pay for. Government buses and rail are deficit ridden and taxpayer subsidized to a terrible level. Government cannot make it work without taking your hard-earned money. The only item that comes close to fare-box success are “express routes” bypassing block-by-block stops with their attendant delays. MTD was allowed to discount “capital” return to increase its supposed fare-box success.

The next time you hear the “anti” groups talking about mass transit and how “everyone will love it,” refer them to The Independent article. Then ask them if they want freedom of choice in travel.

Scott Wenz is president of Cars Are Basic, cab@CarsAreBasic.org.


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