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Too Little Too Late for StarTran

October 2, 2007 at 1:10pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I can’t help but think that the changes StarTran has proposed lately are too little too late. The fact that some members of the City Council are eager to cut StarTran’s budget supports my suspicion. StarTran sat back and relied on a crummy route system for 20 years. Although only one of several reasons for public transportation’s weakness in Lincoln, it was a very important reason. In five years will StarTran be little more than the minimum system required by Federal law? I won’t be surprised.

Incidentally, the City’s Comprehensive Plan says quite clearly that transit funding should be increased, not decreased. The City Council that may cut StarTran’s funding is the same one that adopted the most recent version of the Comprehensive Plan in November 2006.

Consultants Say New Fairgrounds is Worth $175 Million

October 2, 2007 at 1:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

It’s easy to panic just a little when a consultant team throws out a number like $175 million. That’s how much we’ve just been told it would take to build the “ideal” fairgrounds at a new location. But as with nearly every consultant’s report you’re ever going to see, that’s not the whole story. It’s not even most of the story.

Consider that the consultants haven’t simultaneously told us what it costs to maintain the Fair at its current location in its current condition. Nor how much it would cost to upgrade the current facilities to “ideal” status. Nor how much it would cost to build new facilities that are less than “ideal” but still superior to the current fairgrounds. And so on.

For comparison purposes, consider that the Antelope Valley Project’s price tag, at last check, was approaching $250 million.

Without appropriate context, the $175 million price tag is mostly meaningless. This sort of decision can’t be made on a single price tag alone. Indeed, that’s how policymakers try to scare people, and that’s exactly how this report will be (and already is being) used.

There are a lot of perfectly valid reasons to keep the Fair where it is. One price tag, standing alone, is a pretty weak one.

Blow Me Down

October 1, 2007 at 1:10pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

How ‘bout that wind over the weekend, and the rapid temperature change yesterday afternoon? That was fun, wasn’t it? Ugh. Often soccer matches are pretty much impossible in that kind of weather, but I was proud of the kids in my two matches yesterday for mostly ignoring the wind. The parents on the sideline sure weren’t enjoying themselves.

I see it’s 47 degrees right now, and the calendar flipped to October today. I’m not ready for October.

Tag and the Bus

October 1, 2007 at 1:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The article is headlined “Local man has some struggles with bus system”. Frankly, everybody has “some struggles” with Star Tran. Tag Jackson’s problem is he sometimes can’t get drivers to notice him. That’s a big problem when the bus is your only way around town.

Having been a daily bus rider for five years, Mr. Jackson’s core complaints—that drivers sometimes don’t see people waiting, and some drivers are jerks—are valid. StarTran’s rules allow riders to wait at almost any street corner in the city. That’s a lot of territory for drivers to scan. It’s not surprising that drivers miss a person or two now and then. I’ve been missed; I’ve seen others get missed; if riders are awake, they usually holler out to the driver, who then stops a block or two late. And as for a couple of them being jerks? Well, yeah, some people are jerks. A few drivers are naturally jerks, while others only become cranky after an especially rough day filled with more-annoying-than-usual riders. It happens.

One things gets me, though. StarTran’s drivers know “the regulars”. Not just daily riders on a particular route, but riders with unique characteristics who rely on StarTran to get around town. Mr. Jackson is one of them, and I could easily name two dozen more. Spend a month riding the bus and you’ll be able to pick out most of them. “The regulars” are easy to spot around town once you have met them. If drivers are, as Mr. Jackson asserts, missing those folks, something is wrong.

StarTran head honch Larry Worth is unapologetic. He blames Mr. Jackson’s woes in part on Mr. Jackson’s large scooter. What that has to do with drivers not picking him up, I don’t know.

I do know that I don’t want public officials making comments like this: “He’s kind of a hard-headed guy, to be honest with you.” Come on, Mr. Worth. That’s just tacky. Let’s try sticking to the issue and not resorting to name-calling, shall we?

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