OMG, Bond Money Being Used For What It Was Meant For: MUNI's Fixing the Fareboxes?!?
I was catching up on all things SF Examiner related this afternoon, as someone keeps stealing all ours at our building, and caught this interesting little piece of info regarding MUNI, fareboxes, and Bond Money.
A quick reminder - not long ago, state voters approved some Really Big Bonds (i.e. Borrowing Money) to pay for things related to our crap-tacular transportation infrastructure. The idea being, of course, that borrowing money to pay for needed fixes to roads and mass transit is worth borrowing money for, the way you might borrow money for home improvements to increase its value or make it safer to live in.
Sadly, our brilliant members of the Assembly and State Senate, in concert with Our Governor, got confused along the way. First, they voted last year for big cuts to mass transit from the general fund, and they took gas tax money meant for transit and put towards Other Stuff. Then, they took bond money, and instead of using it for needed improvements, spent it on day-to-day expenses. That's like taking a home equity loan or a mortgate out at high interest rates and using it to pay for your grocery bill instead of something like the aforementioned house repairs.
But here he we have a rare case of bond money being used for what it was meant for. It is claimed that within 15 months, the aging, past-their-prime fareboxes can be fixed so that MUNI can start attempting to address its pathetic fare collection rate. Is it a cure-all? Not necessarily. But at the same time, MUNI doesn't have to pull $19 million out of something else to get it done. That's not to say it's "free money" - at some point all those bond issues need to be paid back with interest, and voters sure love to vote for bonds in California without thinking of the long term effects.
Used smartly, bonds can be one of many ways to get things done, just as people take out loans for businesses, purchasing homes, and the like. It's not something you want to do all the time (and end up buried in debt), but sometimes, spreading out the cost of a Big Thing isn't such a bad idea, interest or not.
Now, of course, MUNI just has to fix something but let's open that can of worms some other day....