Mass transit grants end up costing taxpayers

KNCD Moore

Dear Editor,

Federal grants for mass transit are no free lunch. They can be a pain in the neck to local taxpayers. That’s because public transit always loses money. The DOT in Washington, D.C., doesn’t want to lose that much money. This explains why it does not award operating grants to fully fund mass transit systems. But you knew that.

What you taxpayers don’t know is how much money it costs you when your government gets a capital grant. For example, in 1974, Aspen applied for a grant to build a railroad up to Snowmass Village. Lots of local dollars later it ended up with a grant for a bus barn that started up RFTA in 1983. RFTA cost rich Aspen more money than it could afford. So the city used another grant application to get downvalley interested in a regional, light-rail commuter train between Glenwood and Aspen.

Once again, the rail grant was nudged in the direction of buses. This time it is a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) grant. An environmental assessment of the proposed BRT will be released very soon. This will examine the feasibility of an express bus system on an HOV lane between Glenwood and Aspen.

The taxpayers would do well to examine the BRT environmental assessment and check out what impact mass transit grants have had on local budgets over the past forty years. This is good advice after you notice several buses running on empty during the commuter hour in Aspen. Express buses on a three-a-minute schedule may not turn out to be a free lunch ride.

Be Brave Comrades.

KNCD Moore


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