City doing what it has to do on buses

Yesterday I had breakfast with Joel Lourie over at the Lizard’s Thicket on Forest, and as we were chatting he was accosted by a constituent who didn’t like what he’d halfway heard Joel saying about the need for more moderates in the Legislature. He proceeded to lecture Joel on why voters are more and more “conservative” these days. Mainly, it had to do with spending.

But the thing that jumped out at me was the local example he used. After excoriating the effort to raise the sales tax to pay for transportation needs, he said, flat out, “We don’t need buses.” He said it like public transit was just the stupidest, most wasteful idea he had ever heard of.

The conversation ended pleasantly, as Joel listened politely and declined to engage the voter on the more incendiary things he said. (After many years of dealing with angry readers, I can testify that’s a good formula for ending conversations better than they started — look for areas of agreement, look for opportunities to explain your own position better, but mainly allow the frustration to be vented. Most people just want to be heard, and don’t have the same opportunities to make that happen that politicians and journalists do.)

But I thought back to it later in the day. Brian Murrell of ADCO and I went to get some lunch at Greek Boys, and had to park almost a block away north on Sumter. As we walked past the bus stop at Sumter and Hampton in the bitter cold, we passed a guy — probably a patient from Palmetto Health Baptist across the street — standing with a walker waiting for the bus.

We had a nice, warm lunch inside — I had the beef tips over rice with greek salad (minus the feta). It didn’t take all that long — service is fast there — but we weren’t in a hurry, either. We took time to chat with Butch Bowers and Todd Carroll from Hall Bowers over at the next table. Call it 30 minutes, maybe 40.

Then we bundled back up and headed back into the bluster. And as we passed the bus stop, there was that same guy with the walker, still waiting. He had to be chilled right through his bones.

At that moment, I wish that voter from Lizard’s Thicket that morning had been there to tell THAT guy we don’t need buses.

All of which is a long way of getting to the point that Columbia City Council is simply doing what has to be done by coming up for different revenue source for the bus system, for now. Read about that here.

What we should have done was pass the sales tax. But since we didn’t, the city’s got to do something (and so will the county). So that, so far, is what it’s doing.

11 thoughts on “City doing what it has to do on buses

  1. William Tucker

    So, the way I understand it, if the voters vote down an issue, the city council revisits the issue and votes among themselves and approves it. Then they wonder why people are unhappy with them.

  2. Steve Gordy

    That’s the general idea. It’s called ‘representative government’ and our Founding Fathers thought it was far superior to Athenian-style direct democracy (which was open to only a few).

  3. William Tucker

    @Steve – So who are these city councilmen representing? The people spoke in November, the city council voted exactly opposite of the people they represent. I’m willing to bet that if this type of representation continues that there will be across the board changes made in the next election. I’m already predicting that Benjamin will be a one-term mayor. People are seeing Benjamin as just more of the same they saw with Coble.

  4. Phillip

    The City Council is not voting “exactly opposite of the people they represent.” The vote in November was against one proposed method of raising money for the bus system, which also included money for other things like road improvements, etc. The defeat of that bill does not equate to “all methods of raising money to save the bus system are to be opposed.” The defeated tax was a penny tax, but also could be defined (as Doug and others here pointed out) as a substantial percentage increase in the sales tax. This recent action by City Council would cost the average individual customer of the power company about $1.60 per month, less than $20 per year. Or a nickel a day, however you want to look at it.

  5. Lynn

    The problem with the referendum was that only part of it was for public transit. Our elected representatives did a good job of christmas treeing the referendum with all sorts of other items and proceeded to lie to voters about what was really included. That’s why I voted against the sales tax. Tell voters the truth.

  6. William Tucker

    The primary portion of the sales tax bill was for funding the city bus system.

    If you want to bring up substantial percentage increase, look at the increase percentage on your SCE&G bill now that this will be included. It’ll be close to a 50% in fees added onto your power bill.

    Irregardless, it won’t affect me because I don’t live in Richland County. And if I did, I would refuse to pay it because even at a nickle a day I really don’t care to see city buses being funded by taxes or “additional fees” when I see them empty or near empty all day long.

  7. Phillip

    I wasn’t a math major in college, but by my reckoning, $1.60 represents a “50% increase” only if one is paying $3.20 a month for one’s power bill.

  8. William Tucker

    @Phillip – It’s a good thing you weren’t a reading comprehension major in college either. “It’ll be close to a 50% in fees added onto your power bill.”

    To state it in even more simple terms: It’s a 50% increase in fees tacked onto your power bill, not your power usage.

  9. 803andy

    @William Tucker
    Well maybe if you clarified yourself instead of trying to word your statistics in a scary manner there would be no confusion.


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