Patricia C. Westberry, Rph
Owner, D & B Discount Drugs, Morton, Miss.
Public Transportation ‘at what cost’
During Meridian City Council meetings discussing the termination of city buses, the following information was presented. The annual operational costs were in excess of $500,000 dollars. This amount did not appear to include the value of city provide assets like office and maintenance space and some equipment repair. No one could or was willing to provide a true total. Ridership was given as 18,574 for the previous year with some routes only serving one or two riders. Americans are generally in a hurry and won’t wait long on a bus before they find another ride.
The cost per rider was estimated anywhere from $25 to $40. I believe it cost $1 a trip unless you were disabled or bought a pass then it was less. If this was true, the system only generated $18,574 at most. I assume that additional revenue was generated by selling advertising space on buses and bus stops.
The reasoning to have bus service is to support people getting to work, students at NAS Meridian, medicinal appointments and the elderly. If 20 people rode the bus, say 200 days a year to work that would be 8000 riders a year. If 20 students rode it on weekends at 100 days a year that is another 4,000 riders a year. If another 200, people used it as few as 30 times a year that would account for the 18,000 riders.
Therefore, it is not inconceivable that we could spend over a $500,00 supporting 70 to 100 people.
Although public transportation is an asset, business and individuals are more likely to look at things like the available skilled work force, school standings, taxes, crime and availability of health care.
Unfortunately, Meridian is attractive in only one of these areas. I think the money could be better spent improving the other areas. I am sure we will hear terms like grants or subsidies to fund it but they are just another term for taxes.
I never rode the bus so all my information is from those who did, the paper or meetings. If better factual information is available please feel free to provide it.