EDITORIAL: Lake County Council throws riders under the bus

2012-06-14T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Lake County Council throws riders under the bus nwitimes.com
June 14, 2012 12:00 am  • 

The clock is ticking for regional bus service, yet the stubborn Lake County Council has again refused to get on board.

On Tuesday, the council refused to help the Regional Bus Authority lobby the Indiana General Assembly for a change in state law to eliminate a loophole that gives a tax break to people living on investment and pension income, not just low-income families whose earned income is less than $18,600.

That's a tricky tactic, and in any case a solution would be iffy until the General Assembly considers it next year.

But even that hope, however small, was crushed by the County Council when a majority refused to approve a resolution in support of that move.

Councilman Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, said he couldn't support it until he finds out how the RBA would use the money. Other council members said they want to see the bus services consolidate, thus cutting costs, before agreeing to help the cause of public transportation.

Consider that a challenge to the RBA to lay out the facts and figures, very publicly and very quickly, to make sure everyone know what's at stake and what's needed.

Explain what the current situation is, what happens if the RBA runs out of money for the service on June 30, and what ideally would be offered to Lake County residents. Give all the facts and figures, including costs.

Make the case for public transportation so well that the council members clearly understand what's at stake and what opportunities exist.

If the council members want to force the remaining services to consolidate, all they have to do is make the distribution of any county funding conditional on progress toward merger. Set a timetable and hold all sides accountable for making sure it happens.

But don't leave the bus riders stranded. For the council to continue to ignore this problem is worse than irresponsible. The council is yanking away the safety net for people who can't, or shouldn't, drive their own cars.

Transportation is a basic government service. The council must not fail to provide it.

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