Friday, April 10, 2015

On pay per bag, fairness, bike lanes, and oh-yes…fee per ticket.


How long has it been now that the perfect little town has had ‘pay per bag’ trash collection?  We suppose it could already be 10 years, or even more.

The better angels of fairness, you may recall, brought this upon us, with lengthy lectures on how it was only fair for those who make the greatest use of a service to pay more than those who use less of the service.  And so it was that the beautiful people of community pride and righteousness decided that yea, verily, pay per bag would be our eternal plight.

                                Image result for smelling salts for fainting

Some in town, your correspondent among them, had the downright unmitigated gall to suggest that if pay per use is fair, it should be more widely employed.  And so we suggested that pay per book be instituted at the library.  Talk about double standards of fairness!  The local supply of smelling salts flew off the shelves.


Brunswick’s municipal matrons were beside themselves.  “Well I never….” was heard everywhere.  It turns out, we discovered, that fairness can only be applied in those cases approved by the unappointed guardians of civic righteousness.

Chastened we were, but some lessons don’t stick with you for life.

We’ve posted of late on the upcoming budget season and the likely outlook for our adjustable rate property taxes.  And we noted how elected officials are showing their fiscal restraint bright and early by expressing strong concern about the question of spending $1,500 on a bike lane for Federal Street.  (Don’t tell anyone we said this, but around The McLellan and Hawthorne School, $1,500 is known as ‘chump change.’)

We figure if the leaders in charge of our fiscal future have serious concerns about $1,500, they should be seriously ready to go to the mat for a bigger number….say something on the order of $100,000.

As we understand it, that’s the sum the town forks over for the operation of the Maine Street Station Departure (Visitors) Center.  About half of that is to rent the space, and the other half is for public works to handle snow removal and other tasks associated with the world class platform at the station, associated parking areas, etc.

That works out to an average of about $2,000 per week, or more than the cost of a bike lane on a local major thoroughfare.  We figure that in the spirit of pay per bag trash, there ought to be a way to bring fairness to this situation.

We suggest a fee added to Downeaster Tickets purchased at the station.  We don’t have ridership figures at the ready, but the last time we saw them we remember something like 700 train riders per week at the Brunswick station.  We don’t know how many were visitors who bought their tickets elsewhere, and how many are locals buying their tickets here.  We’re not sure anyone really knows, and if they do know, whether they want to tell us.

Our educated gut hunch is that there are a good deal more of the latter than the former.  Just for grins, let’s go with 500 per week buying their tickets in town.  If that’s the case, adding a $4 per ticket surcharge for station operation should come pretty close to making the ‘center’ self-supporting.  We can always adjust the figure at the end of each year as actuals roll in.

So what say you, Other Siders?   You do support fairness and transport justice, don’t you?

We’re looking for the mavens of All Aboard Brunswick to jump right on board this proposal, and to promote it with all the gusto they can muster.


Alllllllll Aboarrrrrrrrrrrd!

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