Tales from the Public Sector

Mass transit—the holy grail of urban progressivism (Quest for the Holy Rail, as I sometimes put it, or, A Desire Named Streetcar)—is struggling right now. The Wall Street Journal reports today:

Several of the nation’s largest urban mass-transit systems are at a crossroads, with ridership still depressed three years into the pandemic and federal aid running out. . .

The ridership shortfall is forcing transit authorities to question their decades-old funding models for public buses, subways and trains, which are based on a combination of rider fares and public money. On average, fares provided about a third of the operating income for transit systems nationwide in 2019, according to the Federal Transit Administration.

The story attributes most of the falloff in ridership to the COVID-induced shift from working on site. You have to get to the very end of the story to find the other important reason:

In a consumer survey conducted by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority this spring, roughly 60% of subway riders said they are riding less due to safety concerns. Major transit crimes were up 30% last year compared with 2021, according to police. . .

Lori Romeo, a lawyer who lives in Brooklyn and works in downtown Manhattan, said she rarely goes to her office anymore and takes an express bus instead of the subway when she does. “The homeless are sad, but the floridly psychotic and dangerous make going into Manhattan a challenging experience,” she said.

Meanwhile, you may have heard that we’re experiencing torrential rain out here in California right now. There’s a lot of local flooding and road closures where I am, but I have an ample supply of wine and whisky on hand. It is infuriating to see so much water running out into the ocean, when some of it (as much as 22 trillion gallons expected this week) could be captured for future use during our lengthy dry spells.

About that: most of the news coverage of the rain this week goes on for multiple paragraphs about you-know-what (c—— c—–), but the Wall Street Journal deigned to report a relevant fact:

California voters passed a $7.5 billion bond measure in 2012 to help build new storage facilities and make other water improvements. The state approved some of that money in 2018 to help build the Sites Reservoir, 75 miles northwest of Sacramento, which would hold enough runoff from wet years like this to meet the needs of roughly nine million people for a year. But the project has been mired in regulatory delays.

“Mired in regulatory delays” could be the motto for the entire United States these days.

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