Sun. May 26th, 2024

Commentary By Samuel Strait – February 5, 2023

You just can’t make these things up.  In combination with Redwood Coast
Transit Authority and our illustrious Crescent City, City Council, the two governing
bodies have decided to spend two to three million dollars on a local
transit hub to be established on Front Street near the library.  It is
not as though this is something that the locals have in their minds as
an essential feature for the community, but both governing boards have
jumped on board of a re-envisioned Front Street experience.  Claiming,
somehow it would enhance commercial and residential use of the transit
authority’s system of local buses and increase rider safety.  Quite
frankly it is difficult for either board to explain why the two block
move would accomplish any of those goals.  The current hub, although not
nearly as grandiose as the planned one, is but two blocks away, requires
no staffing, maintenance, or loosing 70 public parking spaces.  It also
does not require spending $2 to $3 million dollars to construct the
new hub or thousands of dollars going forward in maintenance and
staffing costs.

It sometimes becomes difficult to understand the seeming obsession to
invest money on Beach Front Park and Front Street that those on the
City’s Council currently are invested in.  There seems to be more
concern over creating a legacy for the current council rather that a
common sense approach to how future generations of the City’s Council
will be able to keep all they wish for without addressing the rising
costs of maintaining the newly built edifices.   Particularly without
benefit of some kind of funding generated by the park and hopefully a
share in the revenue generated by Redwood Coast Transit Authority for
their use of the City’s parking lot.

Oh, wait a minute.  Since the Transit Authority is heavily subsidized
there would not likely be a way for RCTA to pay for their use of the
City’s parking lot.  In fact if local residents were to have to make the
Authority at least break even, the cost of fares would increase to the
point that even the few that ride local buses wouldn’t be able to afford
the cost.  All publicly funded transportation comes nowhere close to
being a profitable enterprise.   Fares collected to ride on trains,
planes and local buses rarely fund 25% of the cost that governments
expend to support local transportation.  The rest comes from the tax
payer who often never resorts to using public transport even in heavily
urbanized areas.

The idea that Crescent City has the need to fund a transportation hub
for their meager fleet of buses rests solely in the minds of RCTA’s
board and the fantasy world of Councilman Blake Inscore. Another of the
City’s edifices in the mold of the Park, Front Street with its “street
element”, the community pool, the projected outdoors amphitheater, the
“Sister City” pottery exhibit, and the Tolowa Interpretive Trail, have I
missed any? All without any thought to how long any of it will survive
the elements.  Granted, for the few that actually use the services of
RCTA’s buses, a hub in the fantasy world of Blake Inscore would be
delightful.  The fact that it is to be paid for by yet to be
successfully received grant funding, clearly is no obstacle for either
Board.  It only is a question of with all the issues that the City
faces, now and in the future, is this the wisest course of action to be
focused on?  Perhaps might the City’s streets be a more appropriate
target for the Council to focus.  Seems like the projected date of fully
addressing street issues is sixty years. Kind of makes you wonder if the
new transit hub will last that long.

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