3 Transit Myths
BY RON SHULTIS
The recent vote by the Metro Council agreeing to put the true cost of Mayor Barry’s $8.9 billion transit plan on the ballot shows that the Beacon Center and other various groups are effectively highlighting the truth that the plan costs too much and does too little. Naturally, critics of our message have now emerged. There is an old quote from Gandhi saying, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” When it comes to arguing against the Mayor’s boondoggle of a transit proposal, I think it is safe to say we’ve entered that third phase. So, I decided to take some time and address some these ridiculous criticisms:
- “We shouldn’t include the debt and list $8.9 billion as the true cost because you don’t say that when you buy a house.”
First of all, there is an inherent difference between a homeowner and a public referendum. When you decide to buy a house, it’s your responsibility to determine if you can afford the true cost of home ownership. Alternatively, when a public servant is asking for permission to raise your taxes, they should be transparent on the true cost and the amount they want to tax you. If the total amount of taxes will be $8.9 billion, that should be listed. Secondly, mortgages include amortization schedules, which do list the full cost of a mortgage. When you make your mortgage payment, it’s not like your payment goes only to the principal, but principal and interest. The transit proposal will work the same. If our taxes are raised, it will go to pay for the construction and debt payments on this system. Finally, the difference between the $5.4 billion and $8.9 billion is more than just interest and maintenance; it also includes more than $1 billion for the bus system. Should that be excluded too?
- “People criticizing this plan are all from out of state trying to tell us Nashvillians what to do!”
There are plenty of reasons for Nashville locals to be skeptical of this plan, and many are with good reason. It will cost each household thousands of dollars to service a fraction of the city and barely reduce congestion, if at all. But if you are concerned with outside influence on the transit referendum, I would suggest your bigger concern should be the $100,000 Goldman Sachs is being paid to help write the financing plan for the Mayor’s office. Goldman Sachs is about as out of state as they come.
- “The Beacon Center and other critics should say more than “no” and give us their solutions! We can’t just do nothing!”
We did, and we’re not saying do nothing. If you weren’t able to attend our “Off Track” event in January, we had a panel over an hour and a half long covering a package of solutions including telecommuting, smarter use of existing infrastructure, congestion pricing, and autonomous vehicles that will actually reduce congestion. You can watch it on our Facebook and YouTube pages. However the bigger point is this, the referendum is not about Plan A vs. Plan B, it’s whether or not Plan A is a good idea or not. It’s clearly not, and based on the news, Nashvillians are starting to agree.