Calgary's City Council has figured out another new way to waste your tax dollars - and this time, they're taking government waste to the MAX!
At a Finance Committee meeting last week, a majority of Councillors present and voting decided that Calgary's controversial Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service needed a hugely expensive marketing campaign to convince potential riders to actually use the multi-million dollar bus service.
The Committee voted to spend a whopping $336,000 to rebrand Calgary's yet-to-be-launched BRT program as "MAX".
Save Calgary supporters may recall that the Southwest BRT program faced sustained opposition from community members whose concerns were ignored by the City's transit-obsessed bureaucrats.
Thousands of Calgarians attended rallies opposing the BRT plan, who believed the City was forcing transit into areas that didn't either want or need it and was deaf to the concerns of the impact this transit build-up would have on local communities.
The City itself has offered no clear evidence that these new routes will have the ridership to justify their hefty construction costs - transit ridership in Calgary continues to decline year-over-year, down more than eight million trips per year from 2014 to 2017. In fact, the BRT program could simply mean more empty buses traveling slightly faster down dedicated bus lanes taken away from roads already jammed with cars.
Perhaps anticipating the problem of few people wanting to use their new million-dollar bus routes, the Councillors decided to spend even more money giving the BRT program some new lipstick - renaming it Calgary MAX.
It seems clear that the only MAX in this situation is the amount of waste and tax dollars the City can throw at this ill-conceived and unwanted program.
A MAX waste of money. A MAX obsession with building transit services that people won't use. A MAX amount of time spent meeting in secret behind closed doors and ignoring the concerns of everyday Calgarians.
Only one Councillor at the Finance Committee meeting seemed at all concerned about throwing good money after bad when it comes to Calgary's BRT program.
Ward 11 Councillor Jeromy Farkas voted against the plan to spend $336,000 to rebrand the BRT service, instead suggesting the money be spent finding out why Calgarians aren't riding on the empty busses the City already has rolling endlessly down Calgary's streets.
What a novel concept! Understanding first what Calgarians are looking for in a transit service BEFORE spending millions creating a new BRT program and another $336,000 to rebrand it in the hope that, this time, some Calgarians might actually use it.
Why is it that our City and Council always skip the most important part of any new project - meaningfully consulting with Calgarians - before spending millions of our tax dollars?
Meanwhile, after spending $336,000, Calgarians will (apparently) be excited to ride on the "MAX Teal" or "MAX Purple" lines this fall, instead of getting effective garbage collection or - heaven forbid - much-needed tax relief.
We guess it's just business as usual at City Hall - wasting our hard-earned tax dollars... to the MAX!