Friday, March 27, 2015

Getting from Point A to Point B with Bruce Rauner

Cousin Brucie is at it again.

His latest proposal to alleviate Illinois' budget crisis is to gut government subsidies to mass transit, including the Chicago Transit Authority, METRA and the Regional Transit Authority up to sixty-percent.

Despite my fondness for public transportation, I'll be the first to admit these bodies suffer undue difficulty in making ends meet, even as they enjoy large-market monopolies as providers of their respective forms of transportation.

But crippling them isn't the answer.

All three agencies have warned that deep service cuts and steep fare hikes loom if these suggestions are enacted.

And that, of course, is the operative word—enacted.

This could be nothing more than a political maneuver, a red herring meant to divert attention. Or a stratagem designed to scare constituents and make whatever budget cuts follow appear benign by comparison.

It could also be a genuine expression of contempt for what Rauner has repeatedly called “the welfare state” of public transportation in Illinois. Of course, in light of his stated goal of creating jobs and bringing business to Illinois, it's a curious beginning.

Chicago-area job postings regularly make mention of a maximum distance the successful applicant will reside from the job, an obvious cop to the outrageous congestion and commuting times which plague the metropolitan area.

It's hard to see how making a potential labor pool less—and not more—mobile, increasing, rather than decreasing, commuter's reliance on cars and adding to the burden already shouldered by Illinois' brittle motor vehicle infrastructure will improve anything, aside from spiking gasoline tax revenues.

It's also difficult to walk away without feeling that while Cousin Brucie may well want to make Illinois business-friendly and create jobs, he is not quite so interested in people actually getting to them.

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