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Boomer bus: Stimulus cash rolls onto Edmond streets

Boomer bus: Stimulus cash rolls onto Edmond streets


THE OKLAHOMAN EDITORIAL


Published: May 26, 2009

Using federal stimulus money, Edmond will trade one transit system with low ridership for another transit system with low ridership.

Ah, but that’s too cynical. After all, spending $600,000 for eight buses will stimulate the economy somewhere, some day. And those buses will run on clean natural gas, right? No! Not unless another $250,000 is spent to convert them.

Edmond’s bus system contract with the Central Oklahoma Parking and Transit Authority (COPTA) will be replaced by a privatization agreement. A trackless trolley system known as "The Eddy” will be scrapped for buses (we suggest the system be called "The Boondoggy”) resembling those that shuttle passengers from airport parking lots to the terminal.

The new operator will be Texas-based McDonald Transit, the nation’s oldest private provider of transit systems. Those who believe Americans shouldn’t buy Japanese autos because the profits go to Tokyo should take note that Edmond will be sending its transit dollars to north Fort Worth instead of downtown Oklahoma City.

Still, the new buses and expanded routes and hours could increase ridership. But at what cost?

This stimulus plan spending will indeed give a boost to an out-of-state bus manufacturer and an out-of-state private contractor, but it’s difficult to justify spending $600,000 to benefit very few people.

We’re fans of privatizing government services, and Edmond officials seem eager to leave the COPTA fold. The suburb’s operating outlay for transit has run to nearly $500,000 a year; the switch to McDonald may cut that cost.

And those new buses were free!

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