EDITORIAL: End of funding isn't end of need

2012-09-18T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: End of funding isn't end of need nwitimes.com
September 18, 2012 12:00 am  • 

It is not difficult to characterize the Regional Bus Authority as an agency in its death throes. The agency's executive director, Tim Brown, is left without an ongoing service to direct because the agency ran out of money.

Now the Lake County Council is discussing the completion of the RBA's shutdown, removing both money and authority for the agency.

Last week, the council voted to repeal the 2001 ordinance that first established the RBA's predecessor.

Councilwoman Christine Cid, D-East Chicago, said she wanted to stop paying he executive director's salary and the rent for the agency's Merrillville office.

However, Councilman Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, said Brown needs to complete some financial transactions before the RBA's board of directors decides whether to extend Brown's contract.

So the RBA remains in limbo, with just enough money to stay on life support and without a good prognosis.

Even if the Lake County Council cuts off final funding and authorization for the Regional Bus Authority, as expected, the council must not give up on the cause of a regional bus service.

Public transportation is an essential service, and a regional service, done right, would be cheaper and more efficient than the fractured system that now exists.

Whatever agency provides that service, it needs to be done.

People who can't afford a personal vehicle, or who either are unable to drive or choose not to do so must not be left stranded. Connecting them with jobs, health care, groceries and other needs is a vital service not just for those individuals, but society as a whole.

It is easy to eliminate funding for an agency that no longer provides an essential service, but that doesn't eliminate the need for that service, in this case mass transit.

The Lake County Council needs to focus on providing solutions, not just trimming expenses.

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