The Austin Chronicle

Who Will Have the Last Laugh?

RECEIVED Tue., Aug. 12, 2014

Dear Editor,
    The Chronicle’s support for the rail/road bonds is unfortunate [“Point Austin: More Connected Than Thou,” News, Aug. 8]. This project is designed for development interests and out-of-town commuters (who would not pay either the property tax or the sales tax for operations). Current ridership does not justify it, so they estimate 2030 ridership, which would be moderate at best. It is not cost-effective to build for future ridership – it takes money from other transit projects that would better serve current and long-term needs.
    The transit advocates who oppose the project are volunteers who are concerned about transportation in Austin. Most of us have some technical understanding, and a couple are professional transportation planners. Paid staff and consultants can use data to come to a conclusion that is desired by those in power. Mr. King criticizes transit advocates for questioning the outcomes for that reason.
   The Chronicle has criticized Mayor Leffingwell's support for developers and lack of concern for affordability, but Mr. King mocks opponents' concern that the project is designed to serve developers.
    To suggest that only a small group of transit advocates oppose the bond measure is inaccurate. Council candidates have told me that the vast majority of people they meet oppose it. The supporters listed are mostly business interests and UT, which will directly benefit, but is not contributing a dime. The Sierra Club endorsement was made without outreach to the community; many environmental advocates oppose it.
    It is not right for the government to spend money to promote a project (as opposed to education). The Lege passed a law making it illegal, but Perry vetoed it. Mr. King says that transit advocates are "anti-tax," but we understand that transit requires an investment and would not oppose a tax for a worthwhile project. Mr. King would be happy if the bond measure passes. But developers and out-of-town commuters would have the last laugh.
Susan Pantell

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