Posted by: Deb Henry | 12/30/2009

Eco-Pass discontinuation = Throwing the baby out with the bath water

I just received an email that made me very sad and furious at the same time. It was decided distributing Eco-Pass cards to certain state employees (which allow them to use transit) is a bad idea.  Then again, it’s rather appropriate considering a misguided soul also made the convoluted decision highway dollars should come from several indirect taxes (sounds like Socialism to me) in Utah instead of directly from the people who use the roads.

I’m sure someone looked at the Eco-Pass program and said, “I don’t use this service so we should probably get rid of it, ” similar to how all of a sudden our water coolers were removed from our office overnight (because hydration is irrelevant to highways). Next thing you know they’re going to take away the weights in the gym and wonder why the cost of health care is rising.

A few things:

Transit options are correlated with economic development. Taking away transit use does the opposite of its intention in terms of alleviating a recession.

Granted, this will not stop everyone from taking transit, but it will stop some. This policy will be put more of a strain on our already suffering highways, adding more congestion and more volume — which will in turn require more money as more maintenance is needed and more (again, misguided) people clamor for their politicians to continue their futile attempt to build us out of congestion.

One of the worst parts of the highway system in general is that the costs are distributed over many different types of taxes (gas, income, property), fees, and usage costs…essentially making it very difficult to manage, especially in terms of planning as the costs and benefits of each decision can be indirect.

The cost of getting rid of the Eco-Pass is most likely very tangible and a real number on paper in a big office, but the consequences and the changes in behavior that will result are external and intangible… and therefore much more dire.

Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error. – Jefferson

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