Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Remember the Alamo

In the back of my mind, this seems like a really bad idea. Should I have a reason not to be skeptical?
The shocker last night wasn't so much that a local toll-road official will take over as chairman of VIA Metropolitan Transit.

It had more to do with a revelation that behind-the-scene talks have drifted toward the possibility of merging the toll and bus agencies into a super agency. The Alamo Regional Mobility Authority, which is banking on toll-road plans but can pretty much do any type of transportation project, recently outlined an idea to create an overarching Multi-Modal Transportation Finance System.

With it, VIA and the RMA would combine to maximize financing capacity while allowing each agency to operate independently, says the RMA document, which was prepared for a city-county transportation task force.

This might be the first shot in a long Texas war that would attempt to combine these recently created mobility authorities with local transit agencies. Not something that is unfamiliar so close to the Alamo. My fear is a region wide transportation authority focused on toll roads will give suburban jurisdictions too much clout over all transportation and leave the more urban areas hanging out to dry. Specifically, Austin's outside pols have been trying to take away Capital Metro's sales tax for as long as anyone can remember. We'll have to watch and see what happens, but color me skeptical.


Alon Levy said...

This may not be so bad. The New York City MTA was created out of a similar merger, so that the bridge and tunnel toll surpluses could be used to subsidize the subway and bus systems.

M1EK said...

It wouldn't be bad at all. In Austin's case, what exactly did we gain by keeping the sales tax? A commuter rail line that serves Cedar Park (who doesn't pay taxes) more than Austin. Yippee.