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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 14, 2009 8:54 AM. The previous post in this blog was OHSU is involved in Paulson stadiums deal. The next post in this blog is Close call. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Semi-private

Here's an interesting article out of New Orleans -- they're farming out management and operations of the mass transit system to a private company for a flat fee. The company will pay all the employees, and all operating expenses, out of that allowance.

Interesting idea. It may cut down on some costs, but as long as there are state appointees calling the big shots -- such as "policy-making authority for fares, service and operations, as well as approval of each year`s annual transportation development plan, including major initiatives, capital purchases and operating budget" -- it probably won't help all that much. For example, you could have the world's smartest company operating Tri-Met, but as long as there are creaky old gubernatorial appointees with no transit background making the crucial policy judgments, you are going to wind up with ticket machines that don't work, utter nonenforcement of fares, wacky trains that serve few and cost and arm and a leg, a fare system that you need college-level courses to decipher, dismantling of a perfectly good bus system, and countless other absurdities.

But the New Orleans deal might the beginning of a chain of events that eventually leads to positive change down there. If a private company were deciding between buses and streetcars, for example -- with a financial incentive to make the efficient choice -- there's no question which way it would go.

Comments (10)

If a private company were deciding between buses and streetcars, for example -- with a financial incentive to make the efficient choice -- there's no question which way it would go.

So the question is, what is the incentive that drives the Portland transit establishment to choose the least efficient choice every time?

Theoretically I have no problem with the notion of "privatization".

However, in reality the bottom line in the privatization movement is too lower wages and benefits for the working man.

There are SO MANY places in government that can be looked at to save tax payer money, REAL MONEY, not the chump change of transit operations, but transit is an easy target to pick on.

Privatization is a very bad precedent, don't forget it's the private sector that has brought us this global recession.

Think twice, three times, about allowing public services to get into the hands of the "market".

We have all witnessed just how bad the market can be.

And then the market looks to the government and our tax dollars to bail them out anyway!

So what is the lessor of the two evils?
Incompetence is preferable to dishonesty.

Ironically, the St. Charles streetcar line in New Orleans has been working since 1835.

It has operated continually since with the notable exception of a couple of years after the massive devastation of the city by Hurricane Katrina and the corruption and incompetence of the Corps of Engineers.

You can still ride it for a buck and a quarter. Come to think of it, I'd like to take a ride from the French Quarter to Carrollton Avenue for a burger and fries at the Camellia Grill.

the bottom line in the privatization movement is too [sic] lower wages and benefits

Actually the only legitimate purpose of privatization is to benefit the taxpayers and service users through increased efficiencies in the delivery of the public services.

If that is not the purpose, then privatization is just another form of corporate welfare.

When it comes to Tri-Met's "benefits" a recent study showed that their healthcare benefit cost is the HIGHEST in the country for a public transit agency.

It is pretty clear that the taxpayers and transit riders could stand to benefit from some levels of privatization in tri-met because it is so incredibly inefficient as currently delivered.

If Jack's point is that a tri-met privatization process implemented by goldschmidt cronies would resemble corporate welfare rather than serving the purpose of increasing efficiencies, it would be hard to argue with him. (Not to mention the cabal's need to expand their web of pay-to-play relationships in order to keep the wheels properly greased during a contentious privatization process).

So maybe the next question is who's responsible for all these goldschmidt-cabal appointments to public agnecies like tri-met and the port of portland over the last couple of decades?

Isn't it the Office of the Governor?

And hasn't this office been held by democrats since 1987? (goldschmit 87-91, barbara roberts 91-95, kitzhaber 95-'03, kulongoski '03-present).

Assuming that the pattern of oregonians electing democrat governors will continue next year, how likely is it that the next democrat governor will be any different?

BTW, I'm not posing this to make some kind of partisan statement. I just want to know if there is any democratic gov contender who would be willing to clean house (now that Vicki Walker has been bought off with an executive appointment)?

I would prefer if they just sold trimet to Macquarie lock stock and barrel and let them operate it. Then, and only then, might we actually see a transit system that is of use.

I find Al M's indictment of the private sector sort of odd since about 80% of TriMet's funding comes from the private sector. I'm sure Al M's thoughts about TriMet would be a lot different if he actually wrote out a check to TriMet every year for $400-500.00. And especially if he had a business that gets virtually no business from TriMet riders.

Al M is a TriMet driver, so take what he says with a grain of salt. He is benefiting from the corruption at TriMet.

When it comes to Tri-Met's "benefits" a recent study showed that their healthcare benefit cost is the HIGHEST in the country for a public transit agency.

I suggest you read this:

http://www.box.net/shared/static/h3xpcblctm.bmp

Al M is a TriMet driver, so take what he says with a grain of salt. He is benefiting from the corruption at TriMet.

The only part of that statement which has any truth is that I am a Trimet driver.

I work for the money, I provide a service that people actually use, and the so called "corruption" charges are groundless.

Wasteful yes, corrupt no.

I don't indict the entire private sector.

I just don't think its the panacea that some of you folks apparently think it is.

Do we have to go over TRILLIONS of our tax dollars that were JUST HANDED TO YOUR LOVELY PRIVATE SECTOR?

I guess I put in too many links on that last post so it got spammed.

If you want some facts here they are:

FACTS

…about 80% of TriMet's funding comes from the private sector.

I don’t know where this comes from, but if you’re thinking about fare box revenue, that’s less than 10 percent of the total TriMet budget. The private sector does pay all the taxes that go into the TriMet maw, but those are not voluntary payments for services.


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