NEW BUS ROUTES ARE NOT NEEDED
From: Robert F. Zell
The headlines of the past several weeks have been sobering to say the least. The federal debt has risen to astronomical proportions.
Thousands of federal employees have been threatened with shortened work weeks to save money. Closer to home, the state of Maryland faces an income shortfall of nearly $200 million.
State agencies have frozen hiring, and 1991 budgets for several agencies have been cut three percent.
The above facts apparently mean nothing to Howard County, the Columbia Association or the Public Service Commission.
On Oct. 1, two new bus routes began. Not to fear, based on Columbia Association estimates, ColumBus, with the help of its newest bus routes, expects income of nearly $140,000.
Of course, total operating costs are $1,166,000, including the new routes. The new routes will cost an estimated $275,000 to establish. Of this $1,166,000 total, the federal government, the same government workers who plan to cut Medicare and lay off federal workers will pay 50 percent, or $515,050.
The state government, nearly $200,000,000 in debt, will pay $257,525, or 25 percent. Howard County picks up the remaining 25 percent.
If the new ColumBus routes served a purpose other than just being there, maybe some of these costs could be justified.
Justification for the new routes is lacking. To the laymen, ColumBus in general and the new routes in particular only seem to exist so that Columbia residents can say they have bus service.
One only has to watch the empty buses ride from all points to the mall to prove the observation. The new Dorsey's Search route can and probably will run from the mall to Ellicott City and back nearly empty.
In metropolitan areas, e.g., Baltimore or Washington, public transportation is a must. The same cannot be said for Columbia.
In this era of budget deficits, let's stand back and look. Is this the time to start new ColumBus routes? Should subsidies from local and federal governments now deep in debt be continued? Where does fiscal responsibility begin? It should begin in each community in America.
Let's start here in Howard County.