May 17, 2008

Greyhound Riders Sent to the Back of the Bus

The Business Journal reported yesterday that the city has cut a deal with Benvenuti to 'temporarily' exile the Greyhound station to Richards Blvd. about half a mile east of I5. Next Tuesday, the city council is expected to approve this boondoggle, which includes $2 million in city money for infrastructure improvements around the proposed location, plus a guaranteed 12% return to Benvenuti for his development of the new terminal.

Why? "Officials said the downtown location causes traffic congestion and the terminal's presence hampered investment in the area." But I can't help remembering that the city evicted a handful of viable tenants on K Street not long ago, and the consequences have not helped investment there one bit. It's also "rumored" that the city's dispute with Mohanna is near a settlement. How much more will that add to the city's deficit?

Moreover, the teens who come on lightrail to hang out downtown don't come there because of Greyhound, they come there in part, I hear, because Florin Mall where they used to hang out has been under reconstruction since about the time the Meadowview line opened. And I can't help noticing that money spent on moving the Greyhound terminal can't be invested in our youth.

I don't think Greyhound buses cause more traffic congestion downtown than does light-rail. Downtown happens to be Sacramento's existing intermodal location. And I can't help noticing that this will double the challenge of taking RT to connect with intercity bus service, inducing Greyhound riders to choose friends' cars or taxis, and slightly weakening RT's farebox revenues. 

I have heard about an intermodal plan for the railyards, but it will take a lot longer than "several" years to appear, especially when it means getting $300 million from a federal government with a sinkhole in its own budget. The previous railyards plan that was blessed back in about 1990 never happened, so why should I think this one will? Where is the EIR on the negative environmental impact?

I keep hearing other rumors, that the city is experiencing an unprecedented, $58 million semi-structural deficit. Then why are we spending so much money creating market distortions? So Benvenuti can build a luxury hotel & condo for rich people? Where is the city's cut from this deal?

It's said that "the love of money is the root of all evil." (1Tim6) I think the reason this is true is because all desires for money in and of itself are misleading. Those desires lead us away from the reality that money can only reflect. Seeking a reflection leaves you at the mercy of smoke-and-mirrors. Like thinking the wine is better just because the bottle is more expensive.

People keep complaining about crime going up. But they rarely complain when other people, like poor people who ride Greyhound, get screwed. Well guess what - what goes around comes around. A wise friend once told me that the most dangerous people are those with nothing to lose. So if you want to reduce crime, stop taking things away from those who already have the least.

So if you are an ordinary middle-class person who wants to fight crime, tell the city council and the mayor that this is not the way to fix the sinkhole in the city budget. We don't need to make poor people our new niggers.

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