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Anti-transit column ignored fiscal realities

July 23, 2016
KEYWORDS Opinion

In their July 4 column, Cecil Bohanon and Bill Styring sought to take down mass transit by asking why, if transit is so great, it should need subsidies. I’m surprised they reached for this worn-out argument.

As they know, all forms of transportation rely on taxpayer support. Roads are not self-supporting, even if users pay tolls. Airports consume vast amounts of public money. Bus stations, water ports and more all require taxpayer support. Even that “SuperUber self-driving car” that Bohanon and Styring think commuters might one day use will require publicly funded roads, not to mention some sort of high-tech system to allow them to operate safely. Likewise, public transportation is only possible with public funding.

Of course, Bohanon and Styring also try to make their case with the statement, “Our grandparents opted for cars.” Might I remind them that, in that same era, our grandparents also opted for the “medicinal benefits” of cigarettes and the fun of swallowing live goldfish. Oh, and not long before that, they served up a soft drink (Coca-Cola) that contained cocaine!

The point is, Grandma and Grandpa were great folks, but they weren’t right about everything. Besides, we should be worrying less about what our grandparents opted for and more about what our grandchildren want. And national and local studies show that our young people are choosing more and more to apply their transportation dollars to mass transit.

Accept the truth: All transportation relies on public money, and it’s the preferences of our grandkids—not our grandparents—that should drive our decisions.

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Lori F. Kaplan
Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority executive director

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