TANSTAAFL—Especially in Government Programs and Transportation

Are the people of San Diego San Fran stupid?  The government gave them “free bus rides, as if the drivers and mechanics worked for free, the busses were a donation and the system did not have to pay any bills.

“For just over two years, people who live, work or visit downtown have been able to take advantage of Free Ride Everywhere Downtown, or FRED, a quasi-public transportation service like Lyft or Uber within downtown that uses electric golf carts.

But the service isn’t really free – Civic San Diego spends about $1 million per year on it with public funds from parking revenue collected downtown.

Civic San Diego is NOT a private non-profit—it is a government agency:  “What is a Capital Improvement Program?

Civic San Diego’s Capital Improvement Program, or CIP, represents a “sliding” five-year budgeting process for establishing the city’s capital priorities and financing plan. The goal of the CIP is to identify, prioritize and coordinate the financing and timing of major public improvements.”

TANSTAAFL—THERE AIN’T NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH.

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That Free Downtown Transit Service Is Awfully Expensive

Voice of San Diego, 9/13/18

For just over two years, people who live, work or visit downtown have been able to take advantage of Free Ride Everywhere Downtown, or FRED, a quasi-public transportation service like Lyft or Uber within downtown that uses electric golf carts.

But the service isn’t really free – Civic San Diego spends about $1 million per year on it with public funds from parking revenue collected downtown.

And it turns out, it’s pretty expensive, compared with other transit services, as Andrew Keatts covered in a new story. Since it debuted in August 2016, it’s cost about $6.67 per ride. This year it’s on track to cost closer to $6 per ride. For comparison, the Metropolitan Transit System comes in at about $2.71 per ride.

Jarret Walker, an international transit planner, said the cost per rider is “dismal compared to conventional fixed-route transit running in a high-density downtown.”

“So the case against this thing on ridership and cost-effectiveness grounds is pretty basic math,” he said. “If someone wants to argue for it on other grounds, that’s fine.”

Colin Parent, a transit advocate, said city leaders could find a better way to spend the money to improve mobility downtown.

But those behind the service are standing by it. They argue ridership is growing, and will continue to do so as downtown handles are large share of new housing, jobs and visitors in the city. And while transportation is in a period of flux, it’s important to be experimental and flexible, they argue.

 

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.