Published by the Colorado Daily 10/?/94
AS THE MILLENNIUM TURNS... by Evan Ravitz
This June, the City spent your money to find out how to sell this
"big bus" plan to get your vote. The overwhelming "Reasons
Why Respondent Would Vote for Transit Tax" were to reduce
air pollution and traffic congestion. 2A will increase pollution
and marginally affect congestion:
RTD's own "Riding Checks" show an average of 5.5 passengers at any time on any local bus. But RTD and The American Public Transit Association both say it takes 7 passengers to save fuel (and pollution) compared to each person driving alone. Our looping, weaving, slow bus system is already increasing pollution- roughly 30,000 gallons extra fuel are consumed yearly because of largely empty local buses- except at rush hour and on Broadway. The Transit Plan doubles service, which will actually triple the added pollution: Transportation Division admits they expect only 40-50% more passengers with 100% more buses.
The situation is actually worse because not every passenger would otherwise drive alone- CU's "RTD Bus Pass Survey" shows three-quarters of student bus riders would otherwise walk, bike, skate or carpool. Funding the promised service increase with the taxes raised won't leave funds for the touted conversion of buses to propane or natural gas, so the wasted fuel will be mostly diesel, which produces plenty of particulate pollution, our worst problem here.
There are ways to construct a local bus system that will lessen pollution, including: 1. Straighten out the route spaghetti into a grid with many transfer points to make service much faster and encourage bikes on buses. 2. In places and at times with sparse ridership, substitute on-demand vans, which would also serve the handicapped and as delivery service. 3. Stop subsidizing the car problem: city parking fees don't begin to pay for the land, construction and maintenance costs of parking lots. We all pay the difference in taxes, no matter how much we drive. Drivers should help subsidize the solutions: buses, cycling and walking.
Other reasons to reject 2A:
1. The greater need is for regional buses, funded regionally. City studies show the average bus ride here is 13.1 miles, impossible within city limits. Also, an average of 9.4 passengers ride each regional bus, which does save fuel and pollution. It's only fair to tax the whole region for more of this, not just in Boulder.
2. 2A's failure will produce another cover-up. RTD and the City trumpet their bus system, and don't mention that 7 of 10 local bus routes increase pollution. When doubling the buses doesn't magically change the situation, they'll ask for more money.
3. The 2A sales pitch misrepresents the contents of 2A and City Council's Transit Resolution 707. The ads says cyclists and walkers will be helped. But 707 says buses get first and second funding priority. The City "Modal Shift" study shows we cycle six times and walk nine times as much as we bus! Let's build on success, not just failure!
4. 2A makes you subsidize growth! Latest City figures show almost all the 3% annual growth in driving miles comes from growth, not us each driving more. But the designers of 2A used discredited figures showing the opposite. So the taxes are designed to make us pay disproportionately for the problems of growth the City refuses to address. (The Slow Growth! initiative will- in 1995.) No wonder over half the pro-2A campaign contributions as reported as of 10/24 to the City Clerk come from developers- led by Boulder's largest, McStain!
5. 2A promotes the "cult of personality" instead of transportation. The "driving" force is Councilman Tad Kline, who says he was elected to "get Boulder moving", and wants to provide this moving experience before he has to run for re-election in November '95. Mr Kline before his election was chair of the Transportation Advisory Board, which, in the City's "top-down processed democracy" makes him now something like Transportation Czar. 2A is a good example of why the Russians gave up their Czars two revolutions and 77 years ago! If 2A passes, and becomes Boulder's own DIA, Kline might still get to play Federico Pena, who gave us DIA and is now U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Pena showed he could cut the big deal and suck the big bucks from the taxpayers. 2A is the largest City tax increase since the Open Space tax of 1967, about a 10% increase in the city budget.
Watch the Great Transit Debate between Councilman Kline with Citizen Bellis (pro-2A) versus Councilwoman Feinberg with ex-Councilman Pomerance (anti-2A) Thursday November 3 at 7 PM in UMC room 158. Or see the latter two and Boulder Community Alliance spokesman Kevin Rooney on Channel 54/62 Sundays (October 30th and November 6) 10-11PM. The BCA is promoting a democratically-derived, rational, regional, balanced transportation solution for '95. Call Kevin at 444-4613.
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Please vote for City issue 2B and County issue 1A, the recycling increases that do work together on a regional problem, like a good transportation system should.
Although Colorado Amendment 12 would make initiatives easier, which I support, it is so loaded with Doug Bruce's personal baggage and arcana that I will vote no, as I did on his Amendment One for similar reasons, which does force government to ask before going into our pockets for turkeys like 2A.
Please vote for Green Party candidate Phillip Hufford for Governor. The polls say Romer is way ahead, so don't worry that your vote for Hufford might get you Benson instead. It will send a message to Romer to stop selling us out by, for example, signing Senate Bill 139, the "polluter's bill of rights", which gives immunity to prosecution if a company turns itself in for polluting.
If Hufford gets 10% of the vote, then the Greens will qualify as a third party for future elections in Colorado. They will not have to waste their time again with Colorado's ridiculous petition requirements (which violate the Helsinki Accords on ballot access) when they could be campaigning on an equal footing with the Donkeys and Elephants.
This is no ordinary third party with a set agenda. The Greens favor more true or "direct" democracy, which will get more alternatives on the ballot, not just those for which money talks. Voting by phone makes this practical on a large scale.
Evan is the director of the Voting by Phone Foundation and the instigator of the 13th Street Bike Path and the Advocacy Tables now allowed on the Pearl Street Mall, where he entertains on the tightrope.