What a week for transit news. First the legislature pulls a fast one by demanding more research before prioritizing projects in Salt Lake County even though the tax increase has already passed. Then we have the County Council shuffling money around all over the valley instead of concentrating it on the fast-growing west side. (By the way, Mark Crockett, it's a "bait and switch", not a Ponzi scheme. Thought you should know.) Is anyone willing to take transit seriously in this town or are we gunning to be the new Los Angeles?
The legislature had plenty of time to mull over the projects and knew it had been coming for months. Instead of pro-actively taking on the issue, they've kept on tabling it asking for more information. Transportation is one of the few responsibilities that should belong to state government and it's dismaying to see it not being given top billing. I know they're busy guys. I know the pay stinks, the hours are long, and they get an earful from anyone and everyone with an opinion. (This might be why so many cops make it in politics: they're used to it.) At the same time, we expect a focus on the state's core responsibilities.
Legislators, you're on notice. You delayed converting the increase to a sales tax, and we grumbled. You put off prioritizing before we could vote on the increase, and we had a few words. Now you delay it yet again and we're about ready to get into some fisticuffs. It's going to be an out-and-out war if you fail to send a healthy chunk of that surplus to one-time construction projects.
At least a few folks in the legislature, like Sen. Howard Stephenson, understand how to do it right. His bill to buy land now under bond and sell the excess later is a great idea. I have a little concern that the state should overbuy land by too much (we aren't asking them to be in the land speculation business), but it makes sense to buy a little too much rather than not enough. I hope some of his fellows will pull their heads from the sand and get on board.