Why should we not be surprised by the Southeast Florida Transportation Council (SEFTC) and its backers’ latest siren song? In a time of higher gas prices and shrinking family discretional income, these groups who promote a “New Urbanism” want to quietly sock it to suburban middle class families again by proposing an expansion of the public transportation- funded by a litany of massive tax increases on all Floridians, not just Floridians residing in South Florida. Read the list of proposed taxes and the accompanying story here.
These expansions of public transportation in Florida, just like the misguided and subsequently repealed Florida Constitutional Amendment which mandated high-speed rail from one end of the state to the other- only serve to deprive Floridians of their hard-earned money via tax hikes, as well as restrict their freedom of mobility. For example, what if the stops for these proposed rails and buses don’t go where you want to go? Even more distressing about these proposals is the fact that publicly-funded transportation systems cannot sustain themselves by the fares they charge their users alone, hence the need for tolls to be increased on drivers who don’t have any use for public transportation- not to mention the additional across-the-board proposed taxes needed to make the hit on taxpayers “gradual”.
We need to put to bed the silly rationale that we are “saving” the environment by virtue of the State’s expansion of the public transportation system on within Floridia. It’s nothing more than a red-herring argument made by those who ultimately want to control our mobility and penalize automobile usage, absent any concrete evidence that these proposed additions to public transit will result in any tangible effects on our planetary climate or local environment, let alone our own personal health. If you view congestion as an intolerable feature of modern suburbia, perhaps it’s time for you to relocate to a less congested area within Florida. And let’s not forget that you always have the option to leave the state, as increased numbers have been doing of late. In other words, let people vote with their feet, and let individuals decide what the best mode of transportation is for their own personal needs. These types of public-transit expansions are inherently coercive of masses of taxpayers who want no part of them.
Taxpayers in Florida should be extremely cynical of these publicly-funded adventures that typically become inefficient over time and do not come even close to sustaining themselves on user fares alone. What would be optimal for these local governments to do would be to designate a private firm or consortium to manage and operate these city and county transit systems, or at least designate the expansion of them to any interested private entities. A privately-run transit system- or at least a publicly expanded one done with private partnership- would be a much more efficient mechanism to reduce operating deficits, increase employee productivity, and improve the quality of services rendered by an entity that would ultimately be far more responsive towards its travelers. Let’s hope that the forthcoming Transportation Summit will hear enough of that message from the proponents of both privatization and fiscal discipline.