Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday Tips: Be an informed transit advocate

Background Photo: (C) Justin Nelson CC-BY-SA
Some in the transit field are likely wondering why this transit advocacy blog has talked more about labor and the economy rather than demanding more RTA and Omnitrans bus service during the last few weeks. The reason is simply because ongoing problems in both income inequality and the present state of the market economy are primary sources of substandard transit service and insufficient transportation infrastructure despite the fact that Californians are paying some of the highest taxes in the nation.

The Inland Empire marketplace is still not at a robust state as shown by the lack of growth of private sector full time jobs in places like Riverside, San Bernardino and Perris. The value of the working wage dollar is down due to the presence of more unemployed workers than full time jobs, and the fact that the feds continue to flood the marketplace with currency only exacerbates the problem as the federal debt continues to spiral toward $17 trillion with a weakening dollar. To be fair, corporations and the stock market are profiting, but that could be attributed to the income inequality caused by declining wage values and the lack of a need for American workers. Labor interests are demanding higher wages and benefits but are not providing realistic solutions to pump up the economy. That leads to artificially higher prices, an inflated dollar, and fewer full time positions. The fact is numerous trivial state and federal regulations are preventing huge amounts of private capital from being invested back into the local economy. Small businesses are sapped with unnecessary government bureaucracy, preventing them from innovating and competing in many industries starved for better competition and affordable prices. Because of that, the job market suffers.

By the way, such financial barriers which sap innovation also obstructs start up businesses from penetrating the oligopoly market in several industries with fresh ideas and the jobs that go with it. Could places like downtown Riverside house an independent mobile communications hub using existing secure Wi-Fi and high speed internet technology set apart from the big phone companies which would significantly lower the price of making a local call? Could an entrepreneur launch a small airline business in Palm Springs which caters specifically to the snowbird market in the U.S. Northeast with better services, more legroom, quality food, live entertainment, and lower fares than the big name carriers? Stay tuned later for a post on that.

This week's tip calls for our transit riders to become more informed of how the capitalistic system works in America and how it relates to our transportation needs. We certainly want more frequent services, late night buses, a robust transportation network and multi-modal alternatives to automobile travel. A productive labor workforce and market economy needs to provide the resources necessary to pay for the infrastructure and bus operations in the RTA, Omnitrans, Corona Cruiser, and Pass Transit service areas. If you want more buses and lower fares, get to know how the funding structure works, get the facts, see how other systems work, and propose realistic, fact-based solutions in the public arena.

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