Tuesday, July 01, 2008

IndyGo Chief Quits

Is it a glutton for punishment to go from head of the BMV, to IndyGo president? After six years in the latter post, Gil Holmes is leaving the Marion County socialized bus company. From the Indy Star report:
Gilbert Holmes took over leadership of the IndyGo transit system in 2002, inheriting an agency mired in turmoil after federal and local auditors discovered financial mismanagement and other problems.

He confronted a fiscal crisis in 2004 that nearly led to deep service cuts, but he landed a loan from then-Mayor Bart Peterson to cover much of the shortfall. Still, during his tenure, Holmes had to raise fares because of rising fuel and other costs.

At the same time, Holmes pushed a bigger vision for IndyGo, developing a 15-year expansion plan and adding express buses, Downtown shuttles and other features.

Yes, if it doesn't work, expand it. Whether it's a big corporation or a bus system, this seems to be the prevailing, destructive attitude.

I had the opportunity to debate Holmes on WXNT's "Abdul in the Morning" program last year, and Holmes' attitude was most interesting, indeed. He acknowledged IndyGo's greatly unbalanced balance sheet, and was unapologetic for it. He repremanded me for being philosophical and political in my opposition to taxpayer funding of public transportation, but at the same time used philosophical and political justifications in favor of the public transportation.

My blog post from the debate.
My NYC transit experience post, and a Holmes reference.
A Wayne County transit numbers post, and a Holmes reference

It's no secret that I think that at best, public transportation should be left not to government but to private operators, and at worst, it can stay in government hands but the riders should pay the full fare. I can understand a man such as Holmes, with an apparent deep conviction to the redistribution of wealth, taking the positions on transport that he does. I was mystified at the Republicans who are on the bandwagon. The only conclusion I can draw is that they have friends who stand to make a lot of money improving and building trackage, or building and supplying locomotives and cars.

Public transportation is just a bad sign to me. I understand it as a placebo for high gas prices. But like war, these days, public transportation is the health of the state.

Mass transit post on regionalism and "conservatives"
Master link to Kole's posts on "mass transit"

1 comment:

varangianguard said...

Actually, I am a big believer in public transit. Unfortunately, for most of the US, the development of suburbs and exurbs since WWII has made public transit a non-viable transportation model.

The proposals for Indy mass transit are backwards and unnecessarily capital-intensive in my opinion (which isn't very popular). Former Mayor Peterson was too blinkered to see it, and Mayor Ballard is too untutored (so far) to know any better.

Public transit is one of those items that should be provided by government as a societal benefice, like schools, sanitary and storm sewers, potable water, and public roads. But, the provision model is backwards. Most of these services are constructed not to serve the community, but to serve the individuals. Someday, this will bite a segment of the population hard on their collective behinds.