Recently I was having lunch at a downtown establishment and noticed from across the street, a line of CARTA buses sitting idle. Theses buses, the most at one time being six, held no riders. They arrived with no riders, stopped, waited for 3-5 minutes, may have boarded one rider and off down the street they went.
As days turned into weeks and weeks into months, I have kept an open eye on these large smoke burping behemoths. Rarely do I ever see more than one or two riders when I glance past the rolling billboards. Seems, to me , this is a huge waste of city money, as well as a pair of Irish sunglasses on our fair city.
After the last 25 years of growth and reinventing ourselves, it may be high time for us to rethink the public transit system.
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Perhaps the problem is implementation.
First of all you have the poor coverage of outlying areas. When I lived on Eldridge in Hixson, I had to walk about an hour on Delaschamitt then Ely to get to the #16 line. Both are narrow roads with little or no sidewalks, often no shoulder, all while traffic speed along.
Closer in is not much better. Now I have to walk well over six blocks across a busy intersection with a blind hill to get the stop on a side street.
Then there is the fact that you can only get a monthly pass during the week which cannot be recharged on the bus.
And the only locations that can recharge it are only open during the week, not the weekend.
So if you have car on weekends but not during the week you're out of luck. How about recharging online?
We are attracting people from other parts of the country and other countries who are used to a functioning mass transit system. And as we grow as a city we will need CARTA to take some of the load off our roadways.
Otherwise the alternative is even more snarls and congestion than we have now. It is time we started to invest in a proper mass transit system worthy of a 21st century city.
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Apparently, the writer has never taken a bus lately. While he sips his Starbucks staring down his nose at the street, others had been dropping off for work.
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It seems that CARTA is a sacred cow. We know it loses a lot of money, but nobody wants to address the issue. CARTA's 2013 budget is about $19,250,000. Ridership is on target at about 3,200,000. A little math and it turns out that each rider costs a about $6 per trip. Any private business would have been gone a long time ago. I don't know how to calculate the value returned by subsidizing each rider with taxpayer dollars.
I believe there is a need for mass transit in Chattanooga. But I don't see any accountability as to why CARTA loses as much as $6 every time someone steps onto a bus. Now with CARTA operating parking lots and meters, there is even less incentive to increase ridership. Parking lots appear to be more profitable than collecting bus fares.