COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Keeping our public transportation system up and running has proven to be a huge challenge in the past few years.
CMRTA buses have been fueled in part by Richland County through vehicle fees, but that funding is running out. This week, Mayor Steve Benjamin and Columbia City Council exhibited leadership by proposing a 2 percent increase in the SEC&G franchise fees to cover the estimated $3.5 million the city will be expected to ante up to keep the buses rolling. The county meanwhile is being asked to contribute around $1.7 million.
While not the perfect solution and perhaps not entirely equitable, under this plan the cost of paying for public transportation would be spread among all 75,000 SCE&G utility customers including some that don't normally support city services because they don't pay property taxes.
Allowing the buses to stop running or cutting routes and hours of operation is simply intolerable if we are to keep our local economy growing. Folks depend upon this transportation to get them to work in our restaurants, hospitals, stores, schools and other businesses.
This may not be the perfect funding option, but it is a step in the right direction after the failed penny sales tax initiative last month. It might also stimulate further cooperation between the city and county identifying more permanent funding sources for public transportation in the coming years.
That's my perspective, what's yours?