Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bus Marshals

Rarely do I agree with Star Tribune ( columnist, Nick Coleman's world view so today's column was no exception. Mr. Coleman's column was entitled, "These towns need a new marshal, one who rides the bus", where he argues that due to the recent crime wave - including murders - aboard the Metro Transit buses in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota metro area we need to add "air marshals" like the airlines have, to our bus system.

Coleman poses the question -- "why don't buses have marshals?" -- to which he supplies his own answer -- "Is it because bus passengers on city routes where the chance of getting kicked, punched, or shot is highest tend to be poorer than airline passengers?" Well, Mr. Coleman why stop at adding "marshals" to our buses? Why don't we also pursue the following options?:
  • Have the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) assume jurisdiction for ensuring security on the nation's buses. TSA has done wonders for our airports so why not take on the bus system? :-)
  • Add magnetometers to the doors of all public buses AND have all passengers remove their shoes for inspection by the bus driver and/or "bus marshal"

Now of course this is NOT a world that I want to see created. Instead of adding yet another level of "security" to our lives why don't we decentralize our transportation infrastructure even more by providing wealth creation tools for these "poorer passengers" Coleman is so concerned about via free market solutions such as this one advocated by my friends at the Cascade Policy Institute?

Wheels to Wealth Project
A journey toward self-reliance
The goal of the multi-year Wheels to Wealth project is to disseminate information to policy makers and the public regarding the positive role private automobile ownership plays in creating and strengthening economic opportunity for the low-income and welfare dependent population.

Let's get more of these people off of the public buses and into personal automobiles so they can be empowered via the freedom that personal mobility provides. Now before my Big Government friends who read this blog say it let me steal your thunder --- yes more automobiles on the road might add to traffic congestion but there are solutions offered by my friends at -- -- personally I LOVE toll roads since I can see a tangible product for the "tax" that I pay via toll charges.

If "personal empowerment" scares my Big Government friends too much then let us address the metro bus crime wave by selling all of the automobiles driven by the city employees/council members/mayors in Minneapolis and St. Paul then have these public servants use the bus system for all of their travel -- such a move would not only save taxpayers money and get the public servants in direct contact with constituents but it would also provide an army of "de facto marshals" who are already on government salaries to achieve Mr. Coleman's bus marshal plan. The Minneapolis City Council alone -- you can add the governments of Hennepin County, Ramsey County, and City of St. Paul to the mix -- allocates $400 per month per council member for their automobile expense allowance as noted in this blog posting:

"On February 10th the Minneapolis City Council, on a vote of eight to five,gave themselves a whopping $400 a month each for 'car expenses.' That's $64,000 a year. Meanwhile, our libraries have cut back on staff and hours, the numbers of city police and firefighters have been cut and our property taxes continue to rise like hot air balloons. So why did the council approve this self-serving increase that comes right out of taxpayers' pockets?"

So personal automobiles are good for public officials but are bad for the poor people who ride the buses? No, Mr. Coleman, there are better options for Metro Transit to pursue without adding another layer of "security" that requires taxpayers to "invest" even more money.



jdsqrd said...

Why should people have to rely solely on others for protection? Self defense training and a firearm on every hip...

Anonymous said...

How about a clearance procedure and IDs for regular and welfare to work riders, which can be used to get on the bus. Bus driver picks up no one without an ID. Retired people and citizens with good standing can ask their police station to do a criminal background investigation on them and issue this ID. This way the robbers and rapists will be on foot always! Or, we can provide them an identifiable separate set of buses such as painted completely red or something...